The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, June 12
June 12th, 2013
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Anchorage, AK; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Bisbee, AZ; Boise, ID; Butte, MT; Chemnitz, Germany; Denver, CO; Edinburgh, UK; Erie, PA; Flagstaff, AZ; Iowa City, IA; Kalamazoo, MI; Lancaster, PA; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Louisville, KY; Luleå, Sweden; Lyon, France; Memphis, TN (Black Pride); Münster, Germany; Nantes, France; Nashville, TN; Oldenburg, Germany; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; Portland, ME; Providence, RI; Rome, Italy; Sacramento, CA; Saskatoon, SK; Sitges, Spain; Spencer, IN; Strasbourg, France; Syracuse, NY; Thessaloniki, Greece; Thunder Bay, ON; Toulouse, France; Venice, Italy; Vienna, Austria; Warsaw, Poland; Zagreb, Croatia.
AIDS Walks This Weekend: London, UK.
Other Events This Weekend: Lesbian and Gay Stadtfest, Berlin, Germany; Out In the Vineyard Gay Wine Weekend: Sonoma, CA; Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel; Bush Garden Gay Days, Williamsburg, VA.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Loving v. Virginia: 1967. Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving were an unusual couple. They had long crossed the racial barrier as friends in rural Central Point, Virginia: she was Black and Native American, he was white. But friendship turned to dating, and when Mildred became pregnant at the age of 18 in 1958, they decided to go to Washington, D.C. to elope. When they returned home, a group of police officers invaded their house late at night hoping to catch them in the act of having sex (which would have been a crime because of their racial differences). Mildred pointed to the marriage license that they had hung on the wall, hoping that it would protect them. Little did she know, but that license was proof that they had committed another crime. Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 prohibited any “colored” person with so much as one drop of African American or Indian blood from marrying a white person. Miscegenation was a felony, punishable by a prison sentence of between one and five years. The couple pleaded guilty on January 6, 1959, and they were sentenced to one year, with the sentence suspended for 25 years on the condition that they left Virginia.
The Lovings moved to D.C., and in 1963 the ACLU began a series of motions and lawsuits alleging that Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Those lawsuits eventually made their way all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law, along with similar laws in fifteen other states. In the unanimous ruling, the Court held that “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.” Despite this ruling, anti-miscegenation laws remained on the books for several years to come, despite their being unenforceable. In 2000, Alabama voters approved a ballot initiative to repeal its anti-miscegenation law, although even then more than half a million — 40% — voted to keep it.
Mildred and Richard were never political people. After the Supreme Court victory, the couple returned to Virginia and raised three children. Richard died in 1975 at the age of 41 when their car was struck by a drunk driver. Mildred lost her right eye in the accident. She passed away in 2008 of pneumonia at the age of 68. But a year before she died, she issued a statement on the 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, in which she saw the fight for the freedom to marry as unfinished business:
My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone, they have a right to marry.
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.
Jim Nabors: 1930. The Sylacauga, Alabama, learned to sing at his high school and church, and didn’t get into acting until he attended the University of Alabama. After graduating, he eventually landed his first job in television: cutting film for a television station in Chattanooga. He eventually decided to move to Los Angeles because of his asthma, where he began singing and acting in a local Santa Monica cabaret. That’s where he developed a character similar to the one we would later come to know as Gomer Pyle: a naive, golly-gee southern bumpkin with a high-pitched voice and thick accent would would launch into a nearly operatic baritone when singing. That’s where Andy Griffith discovered him, and signed to play a gas station attendant on The Andy Griffith Show. Nabor’s character was so popular that he soon ended up with his own spin-off, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C, which ran for five seasons from 1964 to 1969.
Nabors was among a handful of actors who were openly gay among friends and co-workers, but who were never put publicly. “I haven’t ever made a public spectacle of it. Well, I’ve known since I was a child, so, come on. It’s not that kind of a thing. I’ve never made a huge secret of it at all,” Nabors said recently. What made Nabors so unusual is that he never bothered to play the game of “dating” women for publicity’s sake. There was one rumor going around that Nabors had “married” Rock Hudson in the early 1970’s, sparked by a joke invitation that went out among friends which said that Hudson wold take the last name of Nabor’s character and become “Rock Pyle.” When fan magazines found the invitation, they turned the joke into a story, causing embarrassment for both men. It’s also the only time I know of when Nabors gave the standard 1960s response to why he wasn’t married. “I love kids,” he said. “But I’ve been so busy with my career that I really haven’t given marriage much thought.”
After CBS decided to re-vamp its lineup and cancel all of its “cornball” programs (which constituted almost all of the network’s comedic lineup by 1969), Nabors briefly hosted his own variety show and made several guest appearances on other programs, including a few children’s television programs. But by the mid-1970s, he was pretty much done with TV, and move to Hawaii, where he and his longtime partner and now husband, Stan Cadwallader, have made their home.
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And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?