Obituaries

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Mildred Loving

Civil Rights Pioneer Dies at 68

May 06, 2008 03:53 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
by Rachel Balik
Mildred Loving, who helped overturn state laws against interracial marriage, died in her home on May 2, 2008.

30-Second Summary

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Mildred Loving and her husband, Richard, were instrumental in a U.S. Supreme Court decision 41 years ago that states could not prohibit interracial marriages.

In 1958, the Lovings, a black woman and a white man, were arrested in Virginia and pleaded guilty to breaking the state’s Racial Integrity Act. They agreed to leave the state, but grew lonely for their home and family, and brought their situation to the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union. The appeal eventually went before the Supreme Court, which handed down a unanimous ruling that struck down all state laws barring interracial marriage. Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote, “We have consistently denied the constitutionality of measures which restrict the rights of citizens on account of race.”

Although the Lovings both stated that they pursued their case for personal, not political reasons, Mildred Loving said later in life that she was opposed to laws against gay marriage. Meanwhile, a 2006 amendment to the Virginia Constitution made it illegal for same-sex couples to marry or enter into a civil union.

Headline Link: Mildred Loving dies at 68

Background: The “Loving Decision”

Opinion and Analysis: Interracial Marriage Today

Related Topic: The New Fight for Gay Marriages

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