On June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court struck down laws in many states that outlawed interracial marriage. As such, every year on June 12, we celebrate National Loving Day! The case that sparked the decision was the ironically named Loving v. Virginia, where Richard and Mildred Loving sued the state of Virginia over their interracial marriage laws.
The couple was married in 1958, though they were arrested as soon as they returned home. They continued to fight the arrest for nearly a decade. Finally, the Supreme Court held that the anti-marriage laws in Virginia were unconstitutional and struck them down. This has allowed millions of people to marry when antiquated laws might have otherwise stopped them.
Was This Ruling Necessary?
You might be thinking that it’s a strange ruling to have been handed down in 1967. After all, that was over a century after the Civil War! Certainly interracial marriage wasn’t so taboo as to be illegal by that point? Well, you’d be surprised. In 1967, when the Supreme Court struck Virginia’s law down, some sixteen states still had laws prohibiting interracial marriage.
Notably, the laws were rather strict about marriage across the board. They didn’t simply prohibit white and black people from marrying. They would forbid anyone from marrying someone of a different race. So, if a Japanese American wanted to marry a European American, they would be prevented from doing so.
History of the Holiday
The ruling in Loving v. Virginia was a huge win for marriage equality. In 2004, Ken Tanabe launched National Loving Day to commemorate the decision. Tanabe was born to parents of different racial backgrounds: his father was Japanese, and his mother was Belgian. The holiday is intended to bring together multiethnic families and celebrate the ties that bind them.
Tanabe intended the day to be observed by demonstrations of togetherness. These cold include get-togethers, barbeques and other fun backyard activities. Since the holiday lands in early June, we recommend a full-blown backyard barbeque to commemorate the occasions! Invite all of your loved ones and celebrate the love that changed the world.
A 2016 film titled Loving is a biopic about the couple who sparked the lawsuit. Consider watching it with family to observe the holiday! There’s also a number of excellent documentaries about the couples’ story, which document the historical facts and the context of the time. Whatever you do to commemorate the day, just remember to be kind and loving to everyone you see.