As a white American woman married to a Chinese man, June 12 is not just another summer day. It’s Loving Day, a day commemorating the landmark US Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia that finally struck down anti-miscegenation laws, granting interracial couples the legal right to marry.
But this year marks the 50th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia – and there’s nothing like a major anniversary to encourage reflection on this watershed court case. A new report from the Pew Research Center reveals a sharp increase in interracial marriages in the 50 years since the decision (see also this report by NPR). That’s great news. Meanwhile, the 2016 film Loving reignited our interest and fascination with the historic case, even garnering an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
So what about me? What does Loving v. Virginia mean to me?
You might think, since I’m in an interracial marriage, the answer is obvious: the right to love and marry anyone, regardless of race. Of course, I must acknowledge this. Without Loving v. Virginia, the United States would never have recognized my marriage to Jun as lawful.
But Loving v. Virginia means a lot more to me than just the right to love.
It means courage. The courage to move forward with what you know is right in your heart, even if the law isn’t on your side just yet. The courage to battle that injustice, all the way to the nation’s highest court.
It means determination. The determination to fight injustice, even if it means waiting years (or nearly a decade) for the relief you know you deserve.
It means sacrifice. The sacrifice that comes from two people so committed to staying together that you’re willing to risk jail time and penalties, and even willing to move far away from family just to remain a couple.
While interracial couples in America and the world over honor Richard and Mildred Loving, the historic Supreme Court decision bearing their name is only the beginning.
There is still so much injustice in our world, and there are still reasons for interracial couples to seek redress through the US Court system. I should know, because my husband and I are currently doing just that. When I look back on the day we first filed our lawsuit, in light of this upcoming anniversary of Loving Day, I remember that Richard and Mildred Loving made it possible for Jun and I to fight this unfathomable injustice together, as a legitimate couple. Their indomitable spirit and determination inspire me every day.
They proved there’s enormous power in Loving, together.
What does Loving v. Virginia mean to you?