Lambda Legal Statement on the 40th Anniversary of Landmark Supreme Court Decision in Loving v. Virginia
‘As we join today in celebrating what was accomplished in the <I>Loving</I> case, our spirits are lifted by what that decision proves possible.’
(New York, June 12, 2007) --- Today, the 40th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia that ended the ban on interracial marriage, Lambda Legal released the following statement by Legal Director Jon W. Davidson:
"The victory achieved in Loving provides more than just substantive lessons about liberty and equality. It also teaches those of us who believe that our neighbors have no right to dictate whom we can or cannot marry that we and our allies must not be deterred, but must continue our struggle for marriage equality, however long it takes, until we prevail. We must help free those who respond to difference with bias or fear. We must work to pass laws that treat all families fairly. And couples who now are forced to live outside the protections of the law must be brave enough, as the Lovings were, to challenge in the smartest ways possible government policies that are unjust.
Civil rights champions like the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the ACLU constructed building blocks that made the Loving victory possible. They were not discouraged by historical inequality, public hostility or courts' initial shirking of their responsibility to protect constitutional rights. Those advocates pressed on and on until the arguments against the freedom to marry the person of one's choice were recognized as unworthy of our great nation and until, eventually, all laws barring interracial marriage became solely an ignoble chapter in our nation's history.
While each people's climb towards equality has its own distinct history, valuable lessons can be learned from the struggles of those who came before us. In the year 2000, there was nowhere in the United States same-sex couples could receive even the state law rights afforded those who are married. In the last three years, more than 8,000 gay and lesbian couples legally have married in Massachusetts. But beyond that, through the passage of civil union and comprehensive domestic partnership laws over the last seven years, more than twenty percent of all same-sex couples now live in states where they can obtain at least the state law rights of marriage if not its privileged status. That move from zero to twenty percent over just seven years shows what is possible.
There of course have been major disappointments, with some courts accepting arguments in the same-sex couple context that the Supreme Court soundly rejected in Loving. And there remain major challenges and obstacles. But it cannot be doubted that we are making remarkable progress. And we will fight on. We will fight on, in part, because of Loving.
As we join today in celebrating what was accomplished in the Loving case, our spirits are lifted by what that decision proves possible. All success takes is, first, the willingness of those denied equal rights to stand up for themselves and to secure the support of allies; second, perseverance in insisting that the rights afforded to some be provided to all; and, last, regardless of how long it takes or how much resistance is encountered, unwavering faith that the promises of our Constitution will be fulfilled one day."
Contact: Jackie Yodashkin T: 212-809-8585 ext. 229; C: 917-620-4502; E:firstname.lastname@example.org
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.