SCOTUS Meme

Nicked from several folks on LiveJournal

As evidenced by Katie Couric, Sarah Palin is unable to name any Supreme Court Case other than Roe v. Wade.

The Rules: Post info about ONE Supreme Court decision, modern or historical your blog/Live Journal/My Space page/whatever. (Any decision, as long as it’s not Roe v. Wade.) Also, leave a comment if you participate so I can check it out!

Loving vs. Virginia

This one is personally significant and it also has bearing on the current marriage rights debate going on across our country. However, I readily admit I had to look up the specifics again. I could recall the name of the case but not the first names of the couple and couldn’t recall the exact date of the decision, though I really should! You’ll see why in a minute.

The case: In June of 1958, Mildred Loving, a woman of African and Native American ancestry, and Richard Loving, a white man, were arrested IN THEIR HOME (take a moment to think about that) in Caroline County, Virginia for violating the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 which outlawed the marriage between a white person and a person of any non-white racial background. Specifically, they had gone to Washington DC, where interracial marriage was legal, gotten married and returned to Virginia, where mixed-race marriage was “agin de law!” (Incidentally, the police broke into their house at night hoping to catch them having sex – which was also illegal between whites and non-whites – so they could be arrested for THAT!)

In January of 1959, they pleaded guilty to the “crime” of miscegenation. They were each sentenced to 1 year in prison, which was suspended so long as they agreed to leave Virginia and not return for 25 years. The Lovings moved to DC, got an ACLU lawyer and sued the pants off of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

On June 12, 1967, nine years after the Lovings’ home was invaded by government-sponsored racists, the Supreme Court of the United States of America declared Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act unconstitutional and threw over all race-based restrictions on marriage across the country.

Political significance – one of the last of the legally codified social barriers between whites and blacks to be removed by the work of the Civil Rights movement. Between 1968 and 1975 there was a 500% increase in the rate of interracial marriage in this country. Although interracial couples still face discrimination, no rational person in the country can argue now that the SCOTUS was wrong on this one.

Personal significance – Otto M, a man of Indonesian and white ancestry, and Anna T, a white woman, were married in the state of Washington in December of 1966. Yes, those would be my parents. Again, just think about that for a second. For almost six months the marriage of my parents was illegal in Virginia and 29 other states. At the time only 17 of those states were actively enforcing those laws but still… hello! Technically illegal in more states than it was LEGAL. (BTW: interracial marriage was legalized in Washington prior statehood.)

Which leads me into the significance of this decision today – I think that should be self-evident but in case you don’t get it, on the 40th anniversary of the Loving decision, Mildred Loving said it best:

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. 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.

I’m sure either Darren or I will have some more to say after the debate tonight.

Blessings,

Janice

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One Response to “SCOTUS Meme”

  1. […] rights as well. Our courts repealed anti-miscegenation laws in 1948, almost two decades before the Loving decision. We should not let bigots and out-of-state forces scare us into amending our state […]

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