Virginia became the first USA state to permanently recognize Loving Day, the anniversary of a Supreme Court decision to ban all laws against interracial marriage in the United States.
The historical marker is placed alongside the Richmond building that once housed the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, which ruled against the Lovings before their U.S. Supreme Court victory.
In Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s law and similar ones in about one-third of the states.
It was on June 12, 1967 that marriage laws in the United States would be forever changed.
Mildred never remarried and died in 2008 at the age of 69.
As Mildred Loving put it in the ABC News report from 1967 below, “I say I think that marrying who you want to is a right that no man should have anything to do with”. Matt Fritzinger, who is in an interracial marriage, said the ceremony was a special way to honor the Lovings and hopefully a lesson for future generations.
The couple agreed to leave Virginia for 25 years in order to avoid a one-year jail sentence, but after several years in Washington decided they wanted to come home.
“I am honored to unveil this historical marker memorializing the landmark Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case and Mildred and Richard Loving’s courageous struggle to fight for what they knew was right”, said Governor McAuliffe.
The marker now stands outside the former Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, which ruled against the Lovings.
Arrested in July for violating Virginia’s laws against interracial marriage, the Lovings were convicted and sentenced to one year in jail, suspended on the condition that they leave Virginia. In the Virginia Supreme Court’s 1966 opinion, Justice Harry Carrico cited a previous case upholding the state’s prohibition on interracial marriage and said the issue should be left to lawmakers. The Lovings remained married until 1975 when Richard was tragically killed when a drunk driver slammed into his vehicle.
This story has been corrected to reflect that Harry Carrico was not chief justice when he wrote the 1966 opinion.