Loving v. Virginia Still Relevant 40 Years Later

More than 40 years after the U.S. Supreme Court declared laws barring interracial marriage unconstitutional, it was upsetting to learn that a Louisiana justice of the peace has denied a marriage license to an interracial couple. On one hand, the public's reaction to this terrible act shows we've come a long way since the Supreme Court ruled that preserving the racial integrity of its citizens does not justify Virginia's law banning people of different races from marrying. Yet that this act could happen at all, especially by an official of the state of Louisiana, is still sobering.

Justice of the peace Keith Bardwell's justification for refusing to issue the license is especially troubling. Bardwell told the Daily Star of Hammond, LA, that he was not a racist but merely concerned about the welfare of any children the couple may have.

Racism veiled in concern for children is nothing new. No doubt this same sentiment was expressed by many seemingly well-intended people back in 1958 when a sheriff and two deputies stormed the bedroom of Mildred and Richard Loving in the early morning, and arrested the couple because it was illegal under Virginia law for Richard, who was white, to be married to Mildred, who was black and Native American.

The couple eventually pled guilty to violating the law, and rather than spend a year in jail, they agreed to leave the state for 25 years. Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Mildred wrote Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, asking him if the new law would allow them to live together in Virginia. Kennedy forwarded the letter to the ACLU, which persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1967 case, Loving v. Virginia, to strike the law.

The notion that government has any business meddling in matters of the heart is absurd. Why should government get to decide which couples are worthy of marriage and which aren't? Fortunately, in the years since the Supreme Court struck down the Virginia law, most people have come to realize that laws barring interracial marriage were based on nothing more than prejudice and deep-seated hostility that flew in the face of our nation's promise of equality. And few people understood the pain that comes from that prejudice and hostility as well as Mildred Loving -- who, just months before she died, issued a statement on the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in her case, urging support for marriage for lesbian and gay couples.

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Baylink

Unconscious *-isms are the worst of all...

> The notion that government has any business meddling in matters of the heart is absurd. Why should government get to decide which couples are worthy of marriage and which aren’t?

Why "couples"?

Curmudgeon

Under the laws extant just a few decades ago, my brilliant, accomplished and lovely daughter (now a 42-yr-old Ph.D.) would be considered a "mongrel" by certain knuckle-dragging segments of the population --- and back in those days, the laws would have agreed. It is mind-boggling that one troglodyte in Louisiana still has that much power.

Taaka

This article is an example of just how powerful the government is if they have the right to tell us who we can and can not be with or if that couple is capable of raising a child together. I believe that civil liberties are more than just words, but rights that should be enforced in every aspect and the government has no business infringing on that right.

Jasmine G.

It is my personal opinion that banning interracial marriages is an irrelevant act and disrespects the precedence previously established in the Loving case. The government cannot and should not intervene with individual’s right to marry unless it has a very good reason. In this case a person’s race or ethnicity is not a logical reason for denying the privilege of marriage. The well being, success, relationship, upbringing or children, and so forth are all factors that should be considered by individuals seeking to spend their life together not the government. Bi-racial children will face the same forms of bullying as single raced children. In today’s society exposure to such discrimination and bullying due to race is not as common as it was back in the day when Jim Crow Laws prevailed and segregation was a big issue. Today we live in a melting pot of various people of various colors and backgrounds therefore there is more acceptance and respect for all people. People cannot help who they love and seek to start a family with. So what real logical reason would the government have in opposing such? If these couples choose to go against the traditional odds they have a right to be let alone. In all cases people know what they are up against and the challenges they face when they carry out acts outside the norm, for example homosexual relationships, but if these people recognize and accept these challenges that is there choice. There is no harm being done. My next comment may offend some people, but I feel there should be more stipulations on and mentally stable persons marring mentally challenged persons more than two people form differing races because in such cases as these there is the chance for the weak to be dominated by the strong and taken advantage of. Or cases where really young people want to marry really old persons. Yet in the end, no one should deny people of the right to marriage because what goes on behind closed doors and in the privacy of the home is not my business nor that of the government.

Richard

The ACLU is so full of B.S. and will eventually destroy the fabric of this "ONCE" Great Nation

Paen

Rest in peace Mildred Loving and thank you for living up to your name so well.

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