Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving met in 1950 when she was 11 and he was 18. Years later they began dating and they married after she became pregnant at 18. Blacks and whites had for generations mixed freely in their town of Central Point. As Richard put it, "There's just a few people that live in this community," Richard said. "A few white and a few colored. And as I grew up, and as they grew up, we all helped one another. It was all, as I say, mixed together to start with and just kept goin' that way." After their marriage they were arrested by the sheriff of the County, charged with "cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth." They were convicted but their sentences suspended provided they left the state. But Mildred and Richard saw nothing wrong with their having married each other, and appealed their conviction. The ACLU took their case, Loving vs. Virginia, made its way to the US Supreme Court. On June 12, 1967 the Court unanimously overturned their conviction. On the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision, Mildred issued this statement: "My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God's plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation's fears and prejudices have given way, and today's young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry. Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights. I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about."
Central Point, Milford, VA, United States