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Mildred Loving: She Blazed a Trail for Marriage Equality
Posted By Bill Hogan On February 10, 2014 @ 4:34 pm In Bulletin Today | Comments Disabled
In 1964, Mildred Loving wrote a letter to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy that she couldn’t have realized at the time would launch a campaign for marriage equality  that continues 50 years later.
In her letter, Loving asked Kennedy if the Civil Rights  Act of 1964 might be the vehicle that allow her and her husband to return to their home state of Virginia, from which they had been banished for the “crime” of being married.
Six years earlier, Loving, then a 17-year-old homemaker, and her 23-year-old husband Richard, a bricklayer, had been arrested and jailed for violating Virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute, the Racial Integrity Act of 1924. She was black; he was white. The Lovings were sentenced to a year in prison – to be suspended if they agreed to leave Virginia and not set foot in the state again for 25 years. “As long as you live you will be known as a felon,” the judge in the case said in issuing his ruling.
Kennedy advised Loving to contact the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU quickly agreed to represent the couple in what would become a landmark Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia  (1967). In a unanimous decision, the Court held state bans on interracial marriage to be unconstitutional – 16 states had them at the time – and declared that the “freedom to marry” belongs to all Americans.
“They both were shy and reticent,” Bernard S. Cohen, who as a lawyer in the ACLU’s Washington office argued the case for the Lovings, recalled in 2008 . “But she was the protagonist in the family to push this case forward.”
In June 2007, on the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision, Mildred Loving issued a statement that said, in part:
I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all.
Loving died the following year at age 68 .
The date of the Supreme Court’s decision, June 12, has become known as Loving Day.
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URL to article: http://blog.aarp.org/2014/02/10/mildred-loving-she-blazed-a-trail-for-marriage-equality/
URLs in this post:
 marriage equality: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/06/26/supreme-court-victories-for-same-sex-marriage/?intcmp=AE-BLIL-BL
 Image: http://blog.aarp.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/lovings.png
 Civil Rights: http://www.aarp.org/politics-society/history/voices-of-civil-rights.html?intcmp=AE-BLIL-DOTORG
 Slide show: 10 women in the civil rights fight : http://www.aarp.org/politics-society/history/info-2014/female-civil-rights-leaders.html
 >> Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter: http://www.aarp.org/online-community/people/subscribeFromEmail.action?id=19061&intcmp=ILC-EMAIL-SUB-HLTH
 Loving v. Virginia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_v._Virginia
 recalled in 2008: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/remember-jan-june08-loving_05-06/
 died the following year at age 68: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/us/06loving.html?_r=0
 Image: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLngXMpv8Z4
 What’s the Secret to a Happy, Long-Term Marriage?: http://blog.aarp.org/2014/01/27/whats-the-secret-to-a-happy-long-term-marriage/?intcmp=AE-ENDART1-BL-REL
 Photos: JFK’s Personal Portraits of a Public Life: http://www.aarp.org/politics-society/history/info-09-2013/JFK-Jackie-by-Jacque-Lowe.html#slide1?intcmp=AE-ENDART2-BL-BOS
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