On June 12, 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Loving v. Virginia. Once again, Encyclopedia Virginia has the story:

In the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws banning interracial marriages in the United States. At one time, as many as forty-one states had such prohibitions. Virginia’s law had been passed in 1691and, after being amended several times, reached its final version in the Racial Integrity Act, passed by the Virginia General Assembly on March 20, 1924. Although every state with such a law banned marriage between a white person and an African American, some laws, including Virginia’s, went further and prohibited marriage between whites and other non-white ethnic groups such as Asians and Native Americans. Loving v. Virginia was a landmark case, both in the history of race relations in the United States and in the ongoing political and cultural dispute over the proper definition of marriage.

Perhaps the most dramatic moment in the courtroom came when Cohen quoted Richard Loving as saying, “Mr. Cohen, tell the Court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.”

A unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s law, stating that to deny the “fundamental freedom” of marriage “on so unsupportable a basis” as race “is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law.”

Over time, marriages between whites and African Americans became both more numerous and more accepted. Same-sex marriages, meanwhile, became more disputed, with gay rights activists attempting to use Loving v. Virginia as a precedent in their favor. The courts have preferred reading the case strictly in terms of race, although in 2007 the group Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, or GLAD, released a statement that attributed to Mildred Loving support for same-sex marriage. After her death, the Loving family denied that she held these views. Richard Loving died in 1975, and Mildred Loving died in 2008.

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