Fifty years ago, sixteen states prohibited and punished mixed-race marriages via criminal statutes. Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 7 (1967). Two Virginia residents had the courage to stand up to one of these outrageous criminal statutes in a case that Hollywood has made into a new movie (aptly named Loving) to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in this case. The tale has as much bearing today as it did fifty years ago when almost a third of the United States of America believed it proper to punish couples for the crime of loving someone of a different race.
This true crime story case established a new fundamental right and a ban on statutes aimed at curbing interracial marriage. The facts and court opinions behind the story remain incredible to read. Given the changing tone of race discussions and diversity issues, both for the better and for the worse, a review of the opinions that resulted in love prevailing over bigotry is as important today as it was the day that the Supreme Court announced this landmark decision.