Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Loving Lovings

There was this girl, back in 1958, who fell in love with a boy and the boy fell in love with the girl. They had to cross state lines to marry, but marry they did. Shortly after returning home, they were arrested. Were they interstate bank robbers? Child molesters? Murderers? Drug runners? No. The girl, Mildred Jeter, was black, and the boy, Richard Loving, was white. And, in Virginia, it was against the law for blacks and whites to intermarry. They were convicted of crimes against the state of Virginia and averted a year prison time by agreeing to leave the state.

In 1967, the Supreme Court heard their case, forever changing the face of marriage in the United States. The ruling overturned laws in seventeen different states regarding such marriages. Seventeen states. Imagine that - in the 1960s - in my lifetime.

Many of those same people and their descendants who felt that the marriage between black and white was wrong also believe that gay marriage is wrong. Twenty-seven states have passed state constitutional amendments barring the marriage of other than one man and one woman. I wonder how long it will be before our case is heard and we win the right for our relationships to be treated with equity, dignity, and respect?

She rarely gave interviews, but last year, on the 40th anniversary of the landmark decision, Mildred made this statement:

“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.”

Mildred Jeter Loving died the other day, at the age of 68, following Richard, who died in 1975 in an accident caused by a drunk driver. She never thought she was doing something for the greater good – she was just in love with a boy. The only way she could do that and go home, where she belonged, was to fight it all the way to the top. It’s really that simple, isn’t it?

Read a very poignant story about the impact the Lovings had here.


3 Comments:

Mo said...

I love it that their name was "Loving"...
Michigan, where I live, is one of those states that have a ban on any type of non-man+woman relationships.
Michigan has even taken it one step farther and will not recognize domestic partnership for state employees, setting a horrible precedent in our state judicial system.
May one day we all be "Loving" in our hearts and in our legal rights!

Hahn at Home said...

I read about that Mo. That stinks. How active is the political movement there?

mauniejames3 said...

I think it's totally nuts for anyone or any state to take issue with people that wish to marry out of their race or man and man or girl and girl...It breaks my heart to think that others are that interested in who wants to be together and why..so many women act as "sisters" in their later years so people won't bother them.
to what end..we all have relatives that used to hide their interest in same sex people..why...shouldn't we be over that by now? Get over yourselves.