Mildred and Richard were a couple in love. And just like many couples in love, they decided to honor their love and get married. The only problem was they wanted to wed in 1958 in Virginia, and Mildred was a black woman and Richard was a Caucasian male.
Committed to their love, the couple married in the District of Columbia instead of their home state because Virginia boasted laws banning interracial marriage. Shortly after their arrival home, the couple learned the loophole attempt failed, and seven months later the couple pleaded guilty and were sentenced to one year in jail for violating the miscegenation laws and leaving the state to do so – both being against state law.
Thankfully, the judge was a nice guy and reduced the 25-year-sentence to one year provided that they left the state for 25 years and did not return as man and wife.
Ever the open-minded and tolerant judge, he stated in his opinion that, "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend the races to mix."
To me it sounds like the Virginia judge was protecting the "sanctity" of marriage because God apparently didn't like non-whites. Doubt that assertion? Consider language from a 1955 Virginia ruling providing the foundation for the ruling against Mildred and Richard – the miscegenation laws were designed to "preserve the racial integrity of its citizens" and to prevent "the corruption of blood" from "a mongrel breed of citizens."
This black eye on American justice received its ice pack in 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Virginia's miscegenation laws. Chief Justice Earl Warren offered this as part of his reasoning behind the ruling, "The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men."
And today our courts and collective consciousness are fighting the same bigoted enemy – only this time in the form of sexual preference instead of race.
The rationales many use to argue against gay marriage are the same ones used with interracial marriage, and they have nothing to do with "sanctity" of anything other than prejudice.
Hiding behind God and making him the bigot instead of acknowledging their own prejudice has long been the practice of cowardly moral activists. Despite rhetoric claiming otherwise, those calling for gay marriage bans are simply bigots calling for acts of discrimination and exclusion.
Throughout humanity's existence, societies have used marriage as a gateway to inclusion, and despite its religious beginnings and current uses, marriage is a cultural institution.
Many non-Christians marry, yet non-followers of Christ are considered sinners doomed to hell. They are outside Christian morality just like homosexuals. Allowing non-Christians to marry undermines the "God's will" and "morality" argument and further shows marriage is a cultural and not strictly a religious institution because supposed Christian morals don't always apply.
But, in all honesty, this has nothing to do with morality because the actions these people defend are immoral. Since marriage is the institution used to define what is and what is not accepted, these moralists are using it to exercise their prejudice. Simply, they don't understand, like or accept homosexuality, so they try to prevent and exclude it.
However, and soon, history will condemn those supporting the anti-gay movement in the same way it condemns racist judges from Virginia.
Fittingly enough, Mildred and Richard's last name was Loving. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, the gay rights movement will have its own Loving couple.
All information in this column was taken from the 1967 Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court ruling. Vincent Adams is a graduate English student. His column runs every Tuesday in the Collegian.