I’m so pleased to share this post today from Bob Lamm, in honor of Write to Marry Day, and in protest of Prop 8. Bob is a freelance writer and teacher in New York City whose articles and personal esays have appeared in more than 40 periodicals, including the New York Times, the Village Voice, and Ms. magazine.Â Among many other things, Bob is the author of the essay, “Learning from Women,” which was recently reprinted in Shira Tarrant’s anthology Men Speak Out.Â Here’s Bob! -Deborah
Mildred Loving, who became famous for battling the ban in the United States on mixed-race marriage, died on May 2, 2008. Late in her life, she spoke out against banning same-sex marriages.
In 1958, Mildred Loving and her husband Richard Loving were in bed in their home in Virginia when police arrested them. The Lovings had married in Washington, D.C., five weeks earlier. Since Richard was White while Mildred was African American, their marriage was invalid in Virginia, one of 16 states which barred interracial marriages. (The Virginia statute applied not only to marriages actually performed in that state but also to marriages performed elsewhere.)
Both the Lovings were briefly jailed by the authorities. Under a plea bargain, they left Virginia and agreed not to return together for 25 years. A judge told them that if God had meant for Blacks and Whites to mix he would not have placed them on separate continents. But, years later, because they decided they wanted to return to live in Virginia, the Lovings launched a legal battle with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union. Eventually, in the 1967 case of Loving vs. Virginia, a unanimous United States Supreme Court ruled that miscegenation laws violated the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution. This ruling effectively ended all bans on laws against racial intermarriage in the United States.
In 2007, in a statement prepared for the 40th anniversary of the Loving vs. Virginia ruling, Mildred Loving wrote:
“I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.
“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.”