Monday, May 05, 2008

A Loving woman

Virginia claims it's for lovers . . . but premarital sex was illegal when I went to school there (yeah, sure, that was enforced) and it has never been confused with the home of the interracial enlightenment.

Thus, when Mildred and Richard Loving returned to Virginia from getting married in Washington, D.C., in 1958, Virginia did not recognize their union. They had grown up near each other in rural Virginia and "began courtin'" in 1951. She also became a teen mom, but the negative consequences of that were minimal -- after all, she married the father who was devoted to her and their children.

The problem Virginia had with the Lovings' union is simple: Mildred was black; Richard was white. And Virginia had anti-miscegenation legislation, the Racial Integrity Act -- in other words, no interracial marriages in the state. They were arrested for cohabitating and given the choice -- move out of the state, or go to jail. Instead of going to jail, the Lovings moved out of state. In 1963, they sued to overturn the law. In 1967, they won -- the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia overturned Virginia's anti-miscegenation law and effectively nullified every other state's law against interracial marriage as violative of the Equal Protection Clause -- a real no-brainer for the Court.

The Monk has personally benefited from interracial marriage, not for his own self but because the product of one is MonkCuz1. And The Monk has no use for the concept of marrying his "own kind" because there's no such thing -- how many Italo-Lithuanian Jews with Catholic fathers are you going to find, even in New York? But sometimes history is made by ordinary people who just want to live their life in peace, like two lifelong lovers who wanted to be married and live in their home state.

So today we salute the aptly named Mildred Loving, who remained married to Richard until his death in a car accident in 1975, and died last Friday at her home outside Richmond at a relatively young 68. Even if love does not conquer all, it conquered a small, mean bit of racism enforced in the Old South.

No comments: