BikeMonkey Guest PostEddie B. jumped the gun on this with the suggestion that we should celebrate Loving Day all week. Good by me. Ed posted a letter written by Mildred Loving in 2007 just before she passed away which ends with:
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.
I agree completely with Ed's opener. The importance of celebrating Loving Day and the Loving v. Virginia victory is not just high-fiving all around (although 1967 is not so far distant for some of us). The importance of hammering away at the history, context and meaning of the Loving decision is to show how similar, if not identical, miscegenation law was to the current hot-button issue of gay marriage.
I wrote the following comments and posted them elsewhere about a year or so ago.
Mildred Jeter Loving passed away on Friday May 2, 2008 at the age of 68. Although well-known to some tan folks, many people will need to be reminded that the 1968 "Loving decision" striking down US states' laws banning marriage between individuals of different apparent "races" was titled for Mildred and Richard Loving.
From the AP:
Mildred Jeter was 11 when she and 17-year-old Richard began courting, according to Phyl Newbeck, a Vermont author who detailed the case in the 2004 book, "Virginia Hasn't Always Been for Lovers."
She became pregnant a few years later, 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.
She was, um, eleven? The BM is not too down with that shit, but, whatever. We can assume society wasn't forcing this couple into some "spiritual marriage"! This one seemed to have worked out and in the end made a major contribution and for that we honor the Lovings.
The Supreme Court decision was handed down on Jun 12, 1967 and there is an effort afoot by tan guy Ken Tanabe to promote the celebration of June 12 as "Loving Day". Why not? Any excuse to lift a glass, eh?
Check out the interactive map at The Loving Day Project from which we find that the first state to permit interracial marriage was Pennsylvania (1780) and most of the rest of New England got a clue 1787-89. Apparently "Masshole" is an old epithet since the Bay State held out until 1843. Traditional libbies Minnesota and Wisconsin have the honor of never having miscegenation laws since statehood!
California, currently home of massive numbers of tan folk, kept it real (bigoted) from 1850-1948. Much of the West fell from 1958-1965 (WY and IN were the last) leaving just the usual suspects holding out until the Loving decision invalidated their bigotry.
I live and work in a town that is, to all appearances, absolutely inundated with mixed race families. My kids' school is full of them and at the park it often seems hard to spot any kids that aren't mixed. And yet according to the a href="http://www.lovingday.org/legal-map">interactive map, about a geographic quarter of the continental US would have been off-limits to these families, but for the Loving decision. A decent sized chunk of the federation would have been saying directly that such people were unwanted, illegal by their love and (by frequently stated rationale) a violation of the natural, God-given order of things. I am not pleased that my home state is currently expressing a similar bigotry against same-sex couple. We are on the wrong side of history and Loving is the clearest evidence for this.
[Some of you may be interested in the blog Light-Skinned-ed Girl and her posts on the Mixed-Experience, including her annual June celebration of historical figures.