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Why is Loving Day Celebrated?

Loving Day is celebrated annually every June 12. But did you ever wonder what the holiday signified and who started it?

Loving Day commemorates the anniversary of the legalization of interracial marriages in the United States. The Supreme Court decision was based on the case of Loving vs. Virginia.

Richard and Mildred Loving’s Story

Richard and Mildred Loving got married in June 1958. A few weeks after their wedding, the couple was awoken by the police breaking into their bedroom, ready to arrest the couple.

They asked Richard who was that woman he was sleeping with? I say, I’m his wife, and the sheriff said, not here you’re not. And they said, come on, let’s go.

Mildred Loving, HBO Documentary; The Loving Story

It was illegal for two different races to wed each other back then. The Lovings have been charged with unlawful cohabitation, and their marriage was deemed illegal because Mildred was a black Native American and Richard was white.

After their arrest, the Lovings were sentenced to a year in prison. The judge gave them a choice; be banished from the state or stay in prison. The couple chose to leave Virginia at the time, but several years later, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took their case, and two young lawyers, Bernard Cohen and Philip Hirschkop, defended the couple in court.

The couple’s case reached all the way to the Supreme Court. The Lovings won the case on June 12, 1967. Now, every year on the same day the Loving Day is celebrated due to the historic ruling of the Loving v. Virginia case. (Source: NPR)

What Happened During the Court Hearing?

The ACLU lawyers handling the case asked the court to review the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. This assures equal protection, regardless of race, under the US constitution. They argued that it would have been easy for them to write a phrase that excluded interracial marriage, but they didn’t.

The language was broad, the language was sweeping. The language meant to include equal protection for Negroes that was at the very heart of it and that equal protection included the right to marry as any other human being had the right to marry subject to only the same limitations.

Bernard Cohen, Americal Civil Liberties Union

The Lovings also argued that they just wanted the same rights every American family had.

And that is the right of Richard and Mildred Loving to wake up in the morning or to go to sleep at night knowing that the sheriff will not be knocking on their door or shining a light in their face in the privacy of their bedroom for illicit co-habitation.

Bernard Cohen, Americal Civil Liberties Union

The Supreme Court made a landmark ruling in favor of the Lovings. The court’s unanimous decision made it clear that Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Marriage is a basic civil right and to deny this right on a basis of color is directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment and seizes all citizens liberty without due process of law.

Chief Justice Earl Warren

(Source: NPR)

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