Remembering the Lovings

6/9/2017, 12:55 p.m.

Monday, June 12, is the 50th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned laws banning interracial marriage in the United States.

The case, made more widely known in recent popular culture with the movie, “Loving,” was brought by Richard and Mildred Loving, a Caroline County couple.

Richard, who was white, and Mildred, who was African-American, married in Washington, D.C., because interracial marriage was prohibited in Virginia and 16 other states at the time. But when they returned home to live, they were arrested.

The intervention of then U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy led them to ACLU lawyers, who fought the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Their victory on June 12, 1967, in the nation’s highest court was a triumph for love in this nation and for millions of couples who continue to enjoy the right to marry who they want without regard for color and without interference from the police or the state.

Today, one in six newlyweds in the United States has a spouse of a different race or ethnicity, according to a Pew Research Center report released last month. When considering all couples, not just newlyweds, one in 10 married couples in 2015 was interracial, the report states. That translates into 11 million people who have crossed racial lines to marry, according to the study.

The fundamental right of marriage granted to interracial couples under the Loving decision was extended to same-sex couples nearly three years ago. The Loving case was cited in the October 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the United States.

We hope other Virginians will continue to push against unjust, unequal and senseless local, state and federal laws that deny people of all races, religions, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientation and background fundamental rights. Like the Lovings, ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things that benefit us all if they are willing to stand up for what they believe.