RIP Mildred Loving
Mildred Loving passed away today.
From the Associated Press:
Mildred Loving, a black woman whose challenge to Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling striking down such laws nationwide, has died, her daughter said Monday.
Loving and her white husband, Richard, changed history in 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld their right to marry. The ruling struck down laws banning racially mixed marriages in at least 17 states.
“There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the equal protection clause,” the court ruled in a unanimous decision.
[…] she and Loving got married in Washington in 1958, when she was 18. Mildred told the AP she didn’t realize it was illegal.
“I think my husband knew,” Mildred said. “I think he thought (if) we were married, they couldn’t bother us.”
But they were arrested a few weeks after they returned to Central Point, their hometown in rural Caroline County north of Richmond. They pleaded guilty to charges of “cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth,” according to their indictments.
They avoided jail time by agreeing to leave Virginia — the only home they’d known — for 25 years. They moved to Washington for several years, then launched a legal challenge by writing to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who referred the case to the American Civil Liberties Union.
In a public statement last year, on the 40th anniversary of the Loving decision, Mildred said, in part:
Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry.
Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights. I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.
At the time the Supreme Court handed down its decision, nearly 80% of Americans disagreed with it and used Biblical justifications for doing so. Forty-one years later, those same kinds of Biblical justifications are being used against same-sex couples. And they are just as wrong and just as ignorant as they were then.
I pray we see the day when all those who love are free to join their lives together.
Thank you Mildred and Richard.
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