Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy Loving Day

"What's Loving Day?" you might ask. It's amazing to me how much my generation takes for granted. We often think in vague terms about what life was like in this country before the abolition of slavery, before the civil rights movement took off, and really any time before our lives have intersected with the history of humanity. Today marks the 41st anniversary of a great leap forward for our country. I was reminded about this by an excellent commentary on NPR this morning.

On this date in 1967, the US Supreme Court ruled that it's not a crime for people of different races to marry one another. Before I heard of Mildred and Richard Loving, it had never crossed my mind that consenting adults could be prevented from marrying based on skin pigmentation. The very idea of being forced to flee one's home because neighbors don't like your choice of spouse horrifies. This really happened? In my country? You bet it did.

Of course, this change of law hasn't entirely changed attitudes. As recently as a decade ago I worked with some people who proudly proclaimed that they'd never consider an interracial relationship, and would be furious if their kids did. They were both from the deep south so maybe that had something to do with it. Still, it knocked me back and made me realize just how far we have to go in the area of treating our fellow humans with humanity.

I'm so excited for 5:01pm on June 16th here in California. I'm still astounded that this great date in US civil rights required action by a court. Isn't it just "common" sense that consenting adults who want to spend their lives together should be allowed to do so legally? I don't think there's a lot of difference between the attitudes that forced the Lovings from their home and the attitudes that keep so many gay couples from marrying today. From my perspective, it's all about society having someone that it's "okay" to kick around.

Me, I like to think of every day as Loving Day. After all, my government thinks it's okay for me to be married to the man I happen to love. Take a minute to think about Richard and Mildred, two quiet people who changed the lives of all of us for the better.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I didn't know this. I am glad, sort of, that I do now. I cannot believe this was 1967. I was a sophomore in college. did I really grow up in such a wierd world?

Sadly attitudes have not changed in 30 years as much as I'd like. Nor in Sanders County.