Timeline of the Legal Issues and Events of Loving v. Virginia
Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter married on June 2, 1958 in Washington D.C. and returned home to Virginia where their marriage was declared illegal because it broke the state’s 1924 Racial Integrity Act — he was white and she was black and Native American.
At the time, 16 states upheld anti-miscegenation laws including: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Only 10 states allowed interracial marriage: Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, New York, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Judge Leon Bazile of the Circuit Court of Caroline County denies the Lovings’ request to vacate their sentence and issues a statement affirming that the races should be separate. He agrees to suspend their one-year jail sentences if they leave the state of Virginia.
"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 for the races to mix." —Judge Leon Brazile
Banished from Virginia and living away from their families, Mildred Loving wrote a letter to the U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy looking for help.
The American Civil Liberties Union agrees to take their case and two lawyers, Bernard S. Cohen and Philip J. Hirschkop, represent the Lovings in an appeal to the federal district court.
"They were very simple people, who were not interested in winning any civil rights principle. They just were in love with one another and wanted the right to live together as husband and wife in Virginia, without any interference from officialdom. When I told Richard that this case was, in all likelihood, going to go to the Supreme Court of the United States, he became wide-eyed and his jaw dropped." —Bernard S. Cohen
A three-judge panel agrees to a request from Cohen and Hirschkop to present their case against the constitutionality of Virginia's anti-miscegenation statues to Virginia's Supreme Court.
"Mr. Cohen, tell the court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia." —Richard Loving
The Virginia Supreme Court denies the Lovings’ appeal. The court goes even further and upholds both the constitutionality of the state’s anti-miscegenation law and the Lovings’ conviction.
"We loved each other and got married. We are not marrying the state. The law should allow a person to marry anyone he wants." —Mildred Loving
Arguments in the case of Loving v. Virginia are presented to the United States Supreme Court.
June 12, 1967
In a unanimous ruling under Chief Justice Earl Warren, the Supreme Court struck down anti- miscegenation statues. Interracial marriage is legalized throughout the country.
"Under our Constitution, 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." —Chief Justice Earl Warren
Note: The entire decision of the Supreme Court may be found here.