Margaret and Richard Loving, an interracial couple, married in Washington DC. It was perfectly legal to do so there.
They moved to Virginia in 1958, where they were promptly arrested and prosecuted for “cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth.” (source)
The couple’s plea bargain included agreeing to a sentence mandating, “both accused leave Caroline County and the state of Virginia at once, and do not return together or at the same time to said county and state for a period of 25 years.” (source)
Loving’s sentencing judge Judge Leon M. Bazile, said that “if God had meant for whites and blacks to mix, he would have not placed them on different continents. Judge Bazile reminded the defendants that ‘as long as you live you will be known as a felon.’” (source)
In 1967, the Lovings went before the United States Supreme Court. In deciding their case, Chief Justice Earl Warren declared: “There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause.” Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967).
Mr. Loving died 8 years later. Mildred Loving, heroine of the Civil Rights Movement, died last Friday at age 68. Not only were they appropriately named “Loving,” but they are appropriately called “heroes.”
HT: Jon Katz