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Friday, February 24, 2012

FREEDOM TO MARRY OR NOT TO MARRY - CHIEF JUSTICE EARL WARREN, JUNE 12, 1967

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On June 12, 2007, Mildred Loving issued a rare public statement, which commented on same-sex marriage, prepared for delivery on the fortieth anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision of the US Supreme Court. The statement's text of Mildred Loving is below.


Loving for All


By Mildred Loving


Prepared for Delivery on June 12, 2007,


The 40th Anniversary of the Loving vs. Virginia Announcemen

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.


We didn't get married in Washington because we wanted to marry there. We did it there because the government wouldn't allow us to marry back home in Virginia where we grew up, where we met, where we fell in love, and where we wanted to be together and build our family. You see, I am a woman of color and Richard was white, and at that time people believed it was okay to keep us from marrying because of their ideas of who should marry whom.


When Richard and I came back to our home in Virginia, happily married, we had no intention of battling over the law. We made a commitment to each other in our love and lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn't that what marriage is?


Not long after our wedding, we were awakened in the middle of the night in our own bedroom by deputy sheriffs and actually arrested for the "crime" of marrying the wrong kind of person. Our marriage certificate was hanging on the wall above the bed. The state prosecuted Richard and me, and after we were found guilty, the judge declared:


"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix." He sentenced us to a year in prison, but offered to suspend the sentence if we left our home in Virginia for 25 years exile.


We left, and got a lawyer. Richard and I had to fight, but still were not fighting for a cause. We were fighting for our love.


Though it turned out we had to fight, happily Richard and I didn't have to fight alone. Thanks to groups like the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, and so many good people around the country willing to speak up, we took our case for the freedom to marry all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And on June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that, "The freedom to marry has long been recognizedas one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men," a "basic civil right."


PDF format for the above statement by Mildred Loving ~ Loving for All


Loving and Jeter


The U.S. Supreme Court decision of Loving v Virginia

WARREN, C.J., Opinion of the Court

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

388 U.S. 1

Loving v. Virginia

APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF APPEALS OF VIRGINIA

No. 395 Argued: April 10, 1967 --- Decided: June 12, 1967

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN delivered the opinion of the Court.


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The Loving Story (2011), an HBO-produced documentary which was screened at many film festivals, including Silverdocs Documentary Festival, Tribecca Film Festival, and Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. The film includes rare interviews, photographs and film shot during the time. Variety called the film "Fascinating."


The Loving Story can be viewed throughout February at hbo.com/documentaries

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It is my understanding that Mildred was Native American Indian and African American. One article I read, stated that Mildred considered herself Native American. Here is an excerpt from Biography of Mildred Loving


Her mother was part Rappahannock Indian and her father was part Cherokee. Throughout her life, Mildred referred to herself as Indian rather than black. Mildred's family had deep roots in the area around Central Point, a part of Virginia, which even at the height of the Jim Crow era, had developed a reputation as a place where race relations were fairly friendly.

The girl who was so skinny that she was nicknamed "Bean" was just 11 years old and attending an all-black school when she first met Richard Loving, a 17-year-old high school student. Quietly, the two eventually started dating and, when Mildred became pregnant at the age of 18, the two decided to get married.


Richard Loving died at age 41 in 1975, when a drunken driver struck their car in Caroline County, Virginia. Mildred Loving lost her right eye in the same accident.

Mildred Loving died of pneumonia on May 2, 2008, in Milford, Virginia, at age 68.

Mildred and Richard Loving had three children: Donald, Peggy, and Sidney Loving.


Grey Villet: Richard and Mildred Loving watching drag races from the pit area, Sumerduck dragway, Sumerduck, Va., 1965.

Quotes About the Marriage of Mildred and Richard Loving


Source


Mildred's "Loving for All" statement, 6/12/07: "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."
Source: Freedomtomarry.org


Mildred about Richard: "He used to take care of me. He was my support, he was my rock." Source: Dionne Walker, USAToday.com, "Pioneer of intrracial marriage looks back", 6-10-2007


Richard about the Supreme Court decision: "For the first time, I could put my arm around [Mildred] and publicly call her my wife."
Source: Skeeter Sanders, Skeeter Biters Report, "True Love Knows No Color", 6-11-2007.


Richard to their attorney: “Mr. Cohen, tell the court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.”
Source: Douglas Martin, "Mildred Loving, Who Battled Ban on Mixed-Race Marriage, Dies at 68", NYT.com, 6-06-2008.


Bernard Cohen, attorney: "They just were in love with one another and wanted the right to live together as husband and wife in Virginia, without any interference from officialdom."
Source: NPR.org, "Loving Decision: 40 Years of legal interracial Unions"


Chief Justice Earl Warren, June 12, 1967: "... 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. Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival ... Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State." Source: FindLaw.com.


A Slow Train - sung by Staple Singers
A song used at the end of HBO The Loving Story (2011) can be heard by clicking this post's title.

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