Virginia newlyweds Richard and Mildred Loving were arrested shortly after their wedding in 1958. The reason? As Life magazine would later put it, “the crime of being married.”
The Lovings had violated Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which banned interracial relationships and marriage. The couple avoided prison time be agreeing to leave Virginia and not come back for 25 years.
In 1964, the couple took their case to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which eventually went all the way to the Supreme Court. On June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Racial Integrity Act was unconstitutional. The decision made states’ anti-miscegenation laws unenforceable (though many of the laws remained on the books for years later).
Today, nearly 50 years later, the Loving v. Virginia case continues to resonate. In 2015, the decision was cited in Obergefell v. Hodges in arguments in favor of marriage equality to the case’s success. A documentary “The Loving Story” was released in 2011, and “Loving” was released in 2016 with Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as the historic couple.