UNITED STATES – On June 12, 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that laws banning interracial marriage violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The ruling legalized interracial marriage in the every U.S. state.
This followed a case involving an interracial couple who married in Virginia, violating Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which criminalized marriage between “white” and “colored” individuals.
The couple was Mildred Loving, a woman of color, and Richard Loving, her white husband.
Loving v. Virginia
On June 2, 1958, Mildred and Richard Loving married each other. At the time, interracial marriage was illegal in 24 U.S. states.
Police came to their home in the middle of the night to arrest them on July 14 of that year.
The Lovings were sentenced to a year in prison for “unlawful cohabitation.” A judge offered them a choice: banishment from the state or prison.
The Lovings chose to leave Virginia. They then spent the next nine years trying to get home, but didn’t regret their decision.
“If it’s necessary, I’ll leave again and take her. I’m not going to divorce her,” said Richard Loving.
The Lovings decided to ask the American Civil Liberties Union to take their case.
Two ACLU lawyers, Bernard Cohen and Philip Hirschkop, agreed. Cohen and Hirschkop argued that the Lovings just wanted the same right as everyone else.
The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 12, 1967, the court unanimously ruled in the Lovings’ favor.
Now, June 12 is annually observed as Loving Day.
Learn more about the Lovings’ story in the HBO Documentary The Loving Story.