On this date in 1967 the Loving v Virginia decision is announced in the Supreme Court. I like to spend a great deal of time disagreeing with the Justices and much of what SCOTUS does, but this is one of those cases where they got it right. For those of you unaware of the particulars of the case, let me boil it down in a simple fashion. Mildred and Richard Loving were arrested in 1958 for being married. Mildred was of African American and Native American descent. Richard was Caucasian. In Virginia, in 1958, their being married was illegal, so when Mildred became pregnant they went to the District to get married, then returned to Virginia. This was also illegal. They plead guilty to violation of two sections under the Virginia Criminal Code, and were sentenced to one year in prison. Their beneficent judge suspended the sentence for 25 years, if they never came back to Virginia. He also wrote this sentence in his judgement.
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.-Leon M. Bazile
Holy shit Batman... It was five years later that the Lovings asked for relief from this judgement, and it was nine years later before SCOTUS finally provided that relief. The Lovings had three children, and the original judgement made it illegal for them to return to Virginia, depriving those children of cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.
I find it repugnant that not only did Leon M. Bazile enforce these laws from the bench, but that the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals upheld these laws as Constitutional. I would have been a really bad 1960s white kid...
The Virginia Court of Appeals made note of its own decision in Naim v Naim (1965) when it upheld the original Loving sentences. In Naim v Naim they stated that the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 (tell me that doesn't make you a little squeamish) served a legitimate purpose, in that it protected "the racial integrity of the its (Virginian) citizens." It also "prevented the corruption of blood," the "obliteration of racial pride", and the rise of a "mongrel breed of citizens." Holy effing shit... To make this argument the State Court referred to the Tenth Amendment and the belief that marriage has never been subject to the whims of the Federal Government. I saw poo... :p In his opinion for the court Mr. Chief Justice Warren wrote the following. At the very least, the Equal Protection Clause demands that racial classifications, especially suspect in criminal statutes, be subjected to the "most rigid scrutiny," Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214, 216 (1944), and, if they are ever to be upheld, they must be shown to be necessary to the accomplishment of some permissible state objective, independent of the racial discrimination which it was the object of the Fourteenth Amendment to eliminate. Indeed, two members of this Court have already stated that they cannot conceive of a valid legislative purpose . . . which makes the color of a person's skin the test of whether his conduct is a criminal offense.
For me, the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 (typing that actually makes my skin crawl) was particularly disgusting and racist because it only "protected" one race, whites. The act didn't prohibit a Chinese person from marrying an African American person, or an African American person from marrying a Native American person. It only prohibited "whites" from marrying "coloreds". Appalling. I love the opinion Chief Justin Warren wrote. It repeatedly bashed racist people over the head...
The fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy.
We have consistently denied the constitutionality of measures which restrict the rights of citizens on account of race. There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause.
I've written about the Loving case before because I suspect it will be heavily referenced when SCOTUS weighs in on the rights of homosexual citizens to marry whom they please. Here's the final paragraph of the Loving case, and it is in my most sincere prayers that the Justices of the Supreme Court are intimately familiar with this paragraph when they are writing their decisions later this month. Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190 (1888). To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. 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.
These convictions must be reversed.
It is so ordered.
I bolded that line of text. I suspect that Mr. Warren's typewriter didn't do bold text. :)
It's been almost 50 years since this decision came down from the bench, and I hope that this month we'll see another landmark marriage decision come down from the bench.
To quote one of the great presidents.
Now that we've abolished discrimination in our laws, we need to abolish it in our hearts and minds. -President Josiah Bartlet
Well, thanks for reading my long rant about marriage and politics. Marriage equality for all...right now. Thanks to Chief Justice Warren for understanding that almost fifty years ago, and prayers for SCOTUS understands that today.