When the question of race discrimination in marriage came before the U.S. Supreme Court (the Court had actually gotten it wrong in previous decades and ducked the question repeatedly in the years following Perez), it was in a 1967 case brought by a black woman, Mildred Jeter, and a white man, Richard Loving. The couple had had to leave their home state, Virginia, in order to get married where their love was allowed. The law in Virginia, like that of many other states, provided: “All marriages between a white person and a colored person shall be absolutely void without any decree of divorce or other legal process.” An interracial marriage was considered a non-starter, contrary to the very “definition” of marriage.

Back from their honeymoon, the Lovings were arrested one night in their own bedroom—with their wedding certificate hanging over their bed—and prosecuted for the “crime” of “evading” their state’s discriminatory law and violating Virginia’s same-race restriction on marriage.

Tomorrow, a coalition of organizations and social justice groups such as the National Black Justice Coalition, Hispanic National Bar Association, Asian American Justice Center and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation will hold a press conference to honor the 40th anniversary of the Loving decision and make the connection to today’s struggle for marriage equality for gays and lesbians.

I am so excited to see the breadth of the coalition behind this event and the movement generally. I’m tired of black folks especially feeling that the civil rights movement stopped with us. It seems to me that too often we display an attitude of “game’s locked” with regard to Latino and immigrant groups and gay/lesbian rights.

Just look at the absurdity behind the language of the miscegenation laws, and it becomes increasingly difficult to justify such discrimination against our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

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