Loving v. Virginia


Richard and Mildred Loving. Francis Miller/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

It was a crime in Virginia for Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, a Black woman, to marry in 1958, so they married in Washington, DC, only to be arrested in a police raid when they returned home. They were charged with interracial marriage and miscegenation, punishable by five years in prison. The Lovings pleaded guilty, received a suspended sentence, and were ordered to leave the state.

They later challenged their felony convictions and, in 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court held that anti-miscegenation laws “designed to maintain white supremacy” violated the Fourteenth Amendment. The ruling struck down laws in 16 Southern states, allowing interracial couples to marry legally, but public opposition persisted and state constitutions retained unenforceable bans on interracial marriage for decades. Alabama became the last state to remove its ban — in 2000.

Mildred Loving later reflected: “I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, Black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”