On This Day: Love and Loving

Today, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states of the USA.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t happy. I am thrilled to know that all my friends can choose whether or not they want to marry. I didn’t find out about the ruling until a coworker told me; I was listening to Spotify on the ride in to work today. As the news continues to sink in, I am more and more moved.

I understand that I have friends from many walks of life, including walks of life that do not account for same-sex relationships as valid nor moral. They are struggling with what they define as their truth today, I am certain, and I hope that their hearts turn to love instead of hate. As one who is a free-spirited and progressive Catholic, I will pray for you.

Furthermore, I have many friends who come from walks of life in which they have not been allowed to live to their fullest. Today marks a step in the right direction, but we’re not done yet. Discrimination reaches further than legality of marriage, and we have a long road ahead of us in terms of making this world an equitable place for everyone. This goes for race, creed, orientation, gender identity, SES, etc. There’s a very long list, and it overwhelms me when I think about how I am just one very small player in this complicated world. However, we should celebrate the decision today. A conscious celebration is very much in order and overdue.

I also think about the parallels to the historic Loving v. Virginia decision. On June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws, declaring that mixed-race marriages were legal. It seems so long ago, and in my lived truth, mixed-race relationships seem so normal.

But Loving v. Virginia wasn’t actually that long ago.

In fact, the ruling was only ten years before my parents got married.

One of the most well-known arguments against mixed-race marriage–at least, most well-known to me, who had to draw on it for a debate course back in the mid-2000s–came from the judge presiding over the original case. One NPR article summarizes that “Judge Leon Bazile wrote: ‘Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and He placed them on separate continents. … The fact that He separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.‘”

Does that sound familiar?

What also sounds familiar, though, were the arguments in favor. The argument was made in the case that “The Lovings have the right to go to sleep at night knowing that if should they not wake in the morning, their children would have the right to inherit from them. They have the right to be secure in knowing that, if they go to sleep and do not wake in the morning, that one of them, a survivor of them, has the right to Social Security benefits. All of these are denied to them, and they will not be denied to them if the whole anti-miscegenistic scheme of Virginia… [is] found unconstitutional” (via NPR, 2007).

I think about these things, and sometimes, I find myself at a loss for words. The profoundness of the situation is not lost on me. This was recent history, and it changed the world.

When change happens, sometimes it is gradual, and sometimes it is sweeping. Today was sweeping, but not without precedent and not without gradually shifting attitudes. I hope that 40+ years from now, we can reflect back–as I often do on Loving v. Virginia–on the long-term impact and understand what we’ve done and what still needs to be done.

I leave you with this beautiful passage from the ruling today, with the hope that you do your part to spread light and joy in the world. Go in peace.

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Indeed, it is.

It is so ordered.

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