PHILADELPHIA, May 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In 1958, Mildred Jeter,
a black woman legally married Richard Loving, a white man in the District
of Columbia. They returned to their home in Virginia. Under a Virginia law
enacted in 1662, blacks and whites were prohibited from marrying. In 1967,
in the case of Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down
miscegenation laws that prohibited blacks and whites from marrying as a
violation of the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause.
"Equality Forum mourns Mildred Loving. She is a civil rights pioneer
and a historic American. Richard and Mildred Loving championed the right of
each citizen to marry the life partner of their choice," stated Malcolm
Lazin, Executive Director of Equality Forum. In 2007, on the 40th
anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, Mildred Loving issued a statement urging
that gay men and lesbians be allowed to marry.
In 1958, the county sheriff and two deputies broke into the bedroom of
newlyweds Mildred and Richard Loving. They were arrested for violating
Virginia's Racial Integrity Act. Their prison term was suspended on the
condition that they not live in Virginia and that they not return at the
same time to Virginia for 25 years.
There were 38 states in the 20th century that had miscegenation laws.
In 1948, the California Supreme Court was the first state to judicially
overturn a miscegenation law. Previous judicial attempts to overturn
miscegenation laws were unsuccessful. In 1967, when Loving v. Virginia was
decided there were 16 states that had miscegenation laws.
Under miscegenation laws, children from interracial marriages were
considered illegitimate and spouses and heirs could not receive inheritance
rights or death benefits.
When the Lovings challenged the miscegenation law, Virginia Judge Leon
Bazile upheld the Racial Integrity Act by stating that if God meant for
whites and blacks to mix, he would not have placed them on different
continents, and by Judge Bazile branding the Lovings as felons. Acting on
the advice of then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy the Lovings sought the
assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU took the case
from an unsuccessful result in the Virginia Supreme Court to the U.S.
Equality Forum is a national and international GLBT civil rights
organization with an educational focus. Equality Forum undertakes high
impact initiatives, coordinates GLBT History Month, produces documentary
films and presents the largest annual national and international GLBT civil
SOURCE Equality Forum