This weekend marks the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case of the Lovings vs. Virginia. The Lovings were an interracial couple that, despite the laws of Virginia banning interracial marriage, were married in the District of Columbia.
After being married, the Lovings returned to their home state of Virginia, where they were arrested and charged with the criminal act of marriage (interracial marriage).
In 1959, the Lovings pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison. In the 1959 hearing, the judge in the case proclaimed that:
Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix (source).
However, the judge agreed to suspend their sentence on the condition that the Lovings leave the state of Virginia, for which they did. After years of court battles, the US Supreme Court finally overturned the convictions in a unanimous decision, dismissing Virginia’s argument that a law forbidding both white and black persons from marrying persons of another race, and providing identical penalties to white and black violators, could not be construed as racially discriminatory.
It was not until 2000 that the final state, Alabama, had repealed its laws against mixed-marriages. Today, it is legal in all US states to marry inter-racially.
You can learn more about the Lovings at http://lovingday.org/the-loving-story.
Photo Credits: NY times and Associated Press