Saturday, June 09, 2007

Happy Loving Day!

June 12, 2007 is the 40th anniversary of the US Supreme Court decision in the case of Loving vs.Virginia, which, if you are unfamiliar with it, struck down the so-called "anti-miscegenation" laws in the 16 states that still had them.

In other words, it determined once and for all that it was unconstitutional to deny couples the right to marry on the basis of being of different races.

The fact that this is the 40th Anniversary was a little mind-boggling for me, because while it wasn't in my conscious memory, it is within my lifetime that these archaic and wicked laws were on the books, and were removed only by appeal to the highest court in the land.

The parallel between the unfairness of anti-miscegenation laws and denying gays and lesbians the right to marry has already been argued to death. If you're anti-gay-marriage, the differences are so fundamental as to render the comparison pointless.

But if you're pro-gay-marriage, the parallels are too obvious to ignore. So it's not surprising that a gay marriage advocacy group in the US is running some very interesting - and very carefully targeted - ads pointing out not only the parallels, but how the benefits of Loving vs.Virginia are being enjoyed by a number of key people in positions of authority and power.

If nothing else, reading the story of black woman Mildred Jeter and her white husband, the suitably-named Richard Loving, should inspire you. (An account is about halfway down the page of the Freedom to Marry Loving decision anniversary ad campaign site linked above.) This couple left their native Virginia - where they were forbidden to marry - to wed, and upon returning to Virginia were arrested in the night, in their own bedroom with a copy of their marriage certificate hung over their bed. Convicted of violating the anti-miscegenation law, and given the choice of prison or 25 years' exile from Virginia, they chose the latter, and began their fight for justice - a fight that took them all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

There must've been some very, very dark days during that fight. One can only imagine the abuse, mockery and threats they suffered, and the "friends" and family who turned their backs.

It should inspire you. And remind you of how far we've come.

And how far we have to go.

Happy Loving Day. If you're straight, take a moment to reflect on your privilege to proudly introduce the person who is the most important person in the world to you as your spouse without a soul raising their eyebrow.

If you're gay, and married, as I know some of the readers of this blog are, take a moment to reflect on the fact that you have - finally - attained - and claimed - the same privilege. Mostly. Except for the raised eyebrow here and there. Pat yourself on the back. No shrinking violet, you.

And if you're gay and unable to marry - yet - know that it's only a matter of time.

Just like Loving vs. Virginia.




Blogger Xtreme English said...

Actually, the 25 years' exile from Virginia was a REWARD, not a punishment! It's still a hotbed of antedeluvian thought.

Thank God for the Lovings's efforts to have this ugly law thrown out.

If you believe in the power of positive thinking, let's all think good thoughts about our GLBT relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Happy Loving Day to all, no matter whom you love!

Thanks for posting this, Ronniecat...

2:48 p.m.  

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