Monday, Dec. 13, 2010

Loving v. Virginia

In 1958, Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving — a black woman and a white man — got married in Washington, D.C., and returned to their home in Virginia, which had an anti-miscegenation law on the books. One night, a sheriff and two deputies burst into their bedroom, shone lights in their faces and hauled them off to jail. Sentenced to one year in prison, the couple was told they could forgo the punishment if they left the state and did not return. Nine years later, in June 1967, after several appeals, the Supreme Court decided in their favor, ruling unanimously that such laws forbidding interracial marriages violated the Constitution's equal-protection clause. A year before the case was heard by the court, Richard Loving conducted an interview with LIFE magazine. "We are not doing it just because somebody had to do it and we wanted to be the ones," he said of their legal struggle. "We are doing it for us." In this case, love (and the Lovings) literally changed the law.