Miscegenation laws which regulate marital & sexual relationships between persons of mixed races have existed in the US as early as the 1600’s beginning with the colonies of Virginia and Maryland. Seaborn Roddenbery, a Georgia Democrat, proposed a miscegenation amendment before the House in 1912 & 1913 stating among other things “Let us uproot and exterminate now this debasing, ultra-demoralizing, un-American and inhuman leprosy—Congressional Record, 62d. Congr., 3d. Sess., December 11, 1912, pp. 502–503.”
In 1935 the National Socialist government enacted a miscegenation statute as part of the Nuremberg Laws of which the German title for the precise law translates into English as “The Protection of German Blood and German Honor Act.” Under Apartheid South Africa passed its Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act in 1949 and the Immorality Act of 1950. Egypt reviews all marriages between Egyptian men and Israeli women on an individual basis to decide whether to strip the men of their Egyptian citizenship. Saudi women are prohibited from marrying outside of the GCC (Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf) countries except with special dispensation from the king. Even today, same to same or same to different race, Same-Sex Mariage is still a penalty of death in some countries.
Fortunately, people’s common sense inevitably challenges such laws and causes their demise just as Richard and Mildred Loving would even if they had not intended to do so when they married on June 2, 1958. After marrying in Washington D.C. they returned to their home state Virginia in which their mixed marriage was illegal. In the very early hours of July 14, 1958 they were awakened in their bed by a sheriff’s flashlight and taken into custody. Sentenced to one year in prison, it was suspended for 25 years on the condition the Loving’s leave the state.
A country girl at heart, Mildred was unhappy living in the D.C and being unable to travel together to Virginia to visit relatives, Mildred wrote to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy who wrote referring her to the American Civil Liberties Union. To make a long legal story short, their case, Loving v. Virginia, culminated in the US Supreme Court which on June 12, 1967 unanimously overturned their convictions and ruled that the anti-miscegenation statute violated both the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.
On the 40th anniversary of Loving vs. Virginia Supreme Court decision Mildred stated:
“My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone, they have a right to marry.
Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.
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. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”
The good news is peoples prejudices and archaic beliefs can and do die with them, leaving newer generations to forge pathways to greater equal protection and freedom of choice for all humans. As it was with miscegenation so it will be with abortion rights, gay marriage and many other human rights presently denied. Eventually the time will come when all will see the only truly peaceful way to live is when we see each other as equals, no more judgments against one another but for one another.
If We the People give the WUF a chance, we’ll all see how quickly this can come. However, until the people in power who are the older generation’s fears and prejudices, finally give way and see things as the young people of today do or are at least persuaded to vote and act that way, meaning, if someone else thinks differently, then that person has just as much right to pursue their happiness just like they do, then these archaic laws will continue to take generations to change instead of days… at least we know, eventually, sooner or later, they will be changed!