Reflecting on the 47th anniversary of ‘Loving v. Virginia’ at the Supreme Court
June 12, 2014
Today is the 47th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia, a landmark ruling that declared bans on interracial marriage in the United States unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that all Americans should be free to marry the person they love.
The plaintiffs in the 1967 Loving case were Mildred and Richard Loving, a black woman and white man who filed their case to combat Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, which prohibited interracial marriages.
The ruling has been a touchstone for supporters of the freedom to marry again and again - most recently in many of the 20 consecutive rulings in state and federal court in favor of marriage for same-sex couples.
Perhaps most poignantly, U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen cited the Loving ruling when she struck down an anti-marriage constitutional amendment in Virginia in February 2014. Judge Wright Allen, in fact, began her ruling by citing a public statement by Mildred Loving from 2007, the 40th anniversary of her case being decided by the Supreme Court. In that statement, Mildred Loving declared:
When my late husband, Richard, and I got married in Washington, DC in 1958, it wasn't to make a political statement or start a fight. We were in love, and we wanted to be married.
...Not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, 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.
...I am proud that Richard's and my name are 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.
In more than 14 cases throughout history, including Loving v. Virginia, the United States Supreme Court has declared marriage a fundamental right. In the Loving decision, the Court wrote, "The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men." Read more about the other 13 cases HERE.
Today, as we reflect on the 47th anniversary of the momentous Loving v. Virginia decision, we hope that soon - as soon as next year - we have another landmark marriage victory to celebrate at the Supreme Court.