Mildred Loving, Rest in Peace

Timothy Kincaid

May 5th, 2008

loving.jpg

“We are not marrying the state. The law should allow a person to marry anyone he wants.”

These were the words that Mildred Jeter Loving told The Washington Evening Star in 1965. At that time she was in exile of her native state, Virginia, which had convicted her of the crime of marrying the man she loved, Richard Loving, seven years prior.

On June 12, 1967 the Supreme Court of the United States of America agreed with Mr. and Mrs. Loving that there is no valid state’s interest in denying them the right to marry each other.

There are those who loudly proclaim the morality of the civil rights efforts that were fought over the freedom and equality under law for persons of African descent yet who actively oppose those same freedoms and equalities for gay people. They “take great umbrage” at the notion that the struggle for equality for gay folks is in any way similar to that of black folk.

Mildred Loving was not such a person. Mildred never set out to be a champion for African-American rights or for mixed-race relationship rights. She just wanted to love and be left alone.

And perhaps it is this heart-based agenda that allowed Mrs. Loving to see her own plight mirrored in the lives of same-sex partners who are denied the same happinesses that she had been denied. On June 12, 2007, fourty years after she won the right to be married to Richard Loving in every state in the Union, Mildred Loving released a statement supporting the struggle of gay men and women to be married. It concludes as follows:

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but 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.

Mildred passed away on Friday. We wish her family much love and peace during their time of grief. And we join them in honoring and missing an amazing woman. She was a hero to the end.

marmelade

May 5th, 2008

What a lovely statement from a heroic person.

Interesting that the non-blog press (AP and NPR so far) are steering clear from the modern-day marriage equality debate side of this story, and refraining from mentioning Ms. Loving’s statement about gender-based marriage discrimination. . . instead they’re using this quote from her statment: “It wasn’t my doing,” Loving said. “It was God’s work.”

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