No one was a fervent proponent of gay marriage 44 years ago this month when the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that laws barring whites and blacks from marrying were unconstitutional. Same-sex marriage wasn't even a fringe issue on June 12, 1967, the day the court handed down its landmark decision in Loving v. Virginia, invalidating anti-miscegenation statutes on the books in 16 states as "invidious racial discrimination . . . repugnant to the 14th Amendment." If anyone had suggested to Chief Justice Earl Warren or his colleagues that in refusing to allow Virginia to continue perverting its marriage laws out of racial bigotry they were pointing the way to gay and lesbian marriages, they would have found the claim unintelligible.
But that hasn't stopped same-sex marriage advocates from explicitly linking the two causes. Ted Olson and David Boies, the superlawyers leading the effort to overthrow California's Proposition 8, pay tribute in a new video to Mildred and Richard Loving, the interracial couple at the heart of the 1967 case. "Forty-four years later," they intone, "Loving v. Virginia still has a profound significance for another group of citizens who wish to marry, but are not allowed: gay and lesbian couples."
In a column for The Hill this month, the ACLU's Laura Murphy similarly laments that "the changes brought about" by Loving are incomplete, since same-sex marriage is forbidden in almost every state. And Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post makes the point (and promotes the Olson/Boies video) in a blog post headlined: "Loving v. Virginia gives hope for same-sex marriage."
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