Category:
Into These Courts
Difficulty Level:
Moderate

Interracial Marriage

In January 1959, a mixed race couple pleaded guilty to violating a law against interracial marriage and received a one year prison sentence unless they left their home state for a period of 25 years.  In which state did this occur? 

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Historical Notes

Mildred Jeter Loving and Richard Loving, an interracial married couple, she African American/Native American and he White.

The unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down two dimensions of the Virginia Code: the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, an anti-miscegenation statue, and the law which prohibited interracial couples from being married out of state and returning to Virginia.  Similar laws in at least 17 other states in the South were also affected.

The immediate and ongoing impact of the decision of the Court was an end to race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United states, and to affirm the freedom of choice to marry (according to Chief Justice Earl Warren) as a fundamental freedom and a “basic civil right….”   An increase in interracial marriages continues in the United States according to the 2010 US Census.  The Loving Decision was used on both sides of the recent same-sex marriage debate.  

The 50th Anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia will be June 12, 2017. The date is also remembered annually as “Loving Day,” an unofficial observance of interracial marriage.