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6 Facts About 1967 Loving v. Virginia Case

By    |   Saturday, 04 Jul 2015 07:34 PM

Loving v. Virginia is a 1967 case in which the Supreme Court outlawed bans on interracial marriage, letting a small-town Virginia couple, the Lovings, live together without fear of criminal prosecution.

Here are six facts surrounding the case and the high court's unanimous ruling.

1. The Couple
The couple at the center of the case were Richard Loving, a white construction worker, and Mildred Jeter, who was of mixed African-American and Native-American heritage. "After marrying in Washington, D.C. and returning to their home state in 1958, the couple was charged with unlawful cohabitation and jailed," according to an American Civil Liberties Union primer on the case.

2. Virginia Racial Integrity Act
The law the couple was accused of violating was the Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which prohibited interracial marriage and defined a white person as someone with "no discernible nonwhite ancestry," according to Encyclopedia Virginia.

3. Sentencing
"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and … did not intend for the races to mix," wrote the judge in the case, Leon Bazile, who handed down a one-year prison sentence, but let the couple go free on the condition they leave Virginia and not return for 25 years, according to the Library of Virginia.

4. Anti-Miscegenation Laws
Racial purity, or anti-miscegenation, laws were on the books in Virginia and 15 other states at the time, by Chief Justice Earl Warrren's count, and the unanimous Supreme Court decision he authored struck down all of them.

5. Effect on Racism
Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called the Loving decision "a real attack on racism" but also downplayed its effect because racial intermarriage at the time was rare even in states where it was legal, Dorothy E. Roberts of the University of Pennsylvania wrote in a study of Loving v. Virginia.

6. Application to Gay Marriage
The case has reverberated through the 21st Century legal debate over state laws prohibiting gay marriage. "So far six federal judges have ruled against state restrictions on gay marriage, and every one of them has invoked Loving v. Virginia," Reason magazine reported in 2014.

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Loving v. Virginia is a 1967 case in which the Supreme Court outlawed bans on interracial marriage, letting a small-town Virginia couple, the Lovings, live together without fear of criminal prosecution.
Loving Virginia, facts, case
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2015-34-04
Saturday, 04 Jul 2015 07:34 PM
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