American Foundation for Equal Rights

“Loving” and the Fight for Marriage Equality

By Julian Bond
Chairman Emeritus, NAACP  and Advisory Board member, American Foundation for Equal Rights.

This Sunday, we celebrate the 44th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court’s decision that that struck down laws that forbade African Americans and whites from marrying.

The Loving decision was a watershed moment in the civil rights movement, and has deep implications today for gay and lesbian couples who want nothing more than the freedom to marry.

To commemorate this anniversary, AFER’s co-counsel in the Prop. 8 case, Ted Olson and David Boies, recorded a special message. They talk about how the Loving case set an important precedent for the current fight for marriage equality.

I hope you’ll watch this video and share it with your family and friends.

This year, the timing of this anniversary holds special significance. It comes the day before AFER’s attorneys return to district court to address a dangerous motion by the other side to throw out the decision that ruled Prop. 8 unconstitutional.

In the Loving decision, a unanimous court held that marriage is “one of the basic civil rights of man…fundamental to our very existence and survival.”

Today, we look at anti-miscegenation laws as a stain on our history and an affront to our beliefs as Americans. In this country, we do not create separate classes of Americans based upon inherent characteristics. Sexual orientation is immutable and unchangeable. It is as much a part of our DNA as our race.

Because I have spent my life fighting to make ours a more just society for all Americans, I’m a supporter of marriage equality. I believe this to be a fight for civil rights.

Mildred and Richard Loving were not political people—they were a committed couple who believed they should have the same ability to share their lives together, just as their neighbors did.

Kris Perry & Sandy Stier and Paul Katami & Jeff Zarrillo, the plaintiffs in Perry v. Brown, are no different. They want to be married. There is nothing in the world they want more, and as Americans, we owe them nothing less.

As Mildred Loving said four year ago, “That’s what Loving [v. Virginia], and loving [each other], are all about.”

And that is why Proposition 8 must not stand.