VIRGINIA (WDVM) — June 12th is also known as Loving Day. This year is the 54th anniversary of the momentous civil rights case Loving V. Virginia, where the Supreme Court struck down bans against interracial marriage.

Mary Bauer, executive director of the Virginia ACLU, remembers the case every Loving Day.

“Mildred and Richard Loving were, you know, two longtime friends who fell in love. Mildred was black, and Richard was white. They fell in love living in rural Virginia in their home community, and they were prosecuted after they got married because they violated the anti-miscegenation laws of Virginia,” said Bauer.

The American Civil Liberties Union represented the Lovings at the Supreme Court case in 1967.

“Many families today, including my own, would not be able to exist without the Loving decision, so every year that Loving Day appears, I give thanks to those people, Mildred and Richard Loving, and the lawyers at the ACLU who fought for my own right to form a family and for millions of other families in the United States,” she said.

The Lovings wed in DC but soon returned to their home state, Virginia, where they faced a year of jail time or leaving Virginia for 25 years.

“The bottom line is that people should be free to live their lives without race-based restrictions and that’s just kind of a basic — you know, a fundamental notion that we now all take for granted as part of our constitutional system, but it was a huge step forward,” Bauer said.

Although some may correlate the Loving V. Virginia case with the catchy slogan “Virginia is for Lovers,” Andrew Cothern with Virginia Tourism says that’s not the case.

“We believe that travelers coming to Virginia are doing the things that they love with the people that they love,” said Cothern. “So ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ is really about a love for travel, but we’re all in what that means the individual person is really up to them.”

Bauer says although Loving V. Virginia was a huge step forward, there’s still more work to be done for equality.

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