Monday, June 12, 2017
"Loving Day" and A Tragic Anniversary
Fifty years ago today, June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Loving v. Virginia that laws prohibiting interracial marriage were unconstitutional. Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, who identified as black and Native American, were married in the District of Columbia in 1958 to avoid the miscegenation law in Virginia. They were forced by Virginia to leave their home and families there to avoid arrest. Working with the ACLU, they eventually brought suit against the commonwealth of Virginia and were successful in striking down not only Virginia's miscegenation law, but all such laws across the country. The case of Loving v. Virginia is widely seen as the forerunner to the push for marriage equality, which culminated in the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision to lift bans on same-sex marriage. "Loving Day" has become an annual celebration of the decision and of freedom to marry the person you love.
Tragically, today marks another kind of anniversary: the mass murder at the Pulse night club in Orlando, a popular night spot for the LGBTQ community on June 12, 2016. Forty-nine people were killed, and 53 others wounded by automatic weapons wielded by a deranged killer, native-born Omar Mateen, who claimed it was in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on a phone call while in the night club. Early this morning, forty-nine people dressed as angels surrounded the now-closed night club as part of a memorial demonstration.
Two anniversaries, one to celebrate and one to mourn, and to reflect on how far we've come and how far we have yet to go.