Fifty-four years ago, Richard Perry Loving (of Virginia) married Mildred Delores Jeter (also of Virginia) in the District of Columbia. Their decision not to marry in their home state wasn’t a matter of personal preference, it was a matter of law; the state of Virginia regarded interracial marriages as a felony crime, punishable by 1-5 years of prison time. For seventeen years the Lovings fought the courts, finally overturning the law in a landmark Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia.
I came across this story reading an article regarding an upcoming exhibition of photographs to be held at the International Center of Photography. I have always viewed Valentine’s day with a mixture of bemusement and indifference; the most notable thing I can remember is when my high school banned the bringing of balloons to school after a couple of dangerous mishaps involving masses of bright red heart-shaped cellophane and crowded hallways.
Israel, not wanting to miss out on this capitalistic bonanza, removes the sketchy christian basis of the thing (there is so little information regarding St. Valentine that the Catholic Church removed his commemoration from the General Calendar) and more aptly renames it “Yom Ahava” (Day of Love). It is fitting then, to reflect on the Lovings’ fight for their right to marry on this day set aside to celebrate those we love and cherish.
Happy Valentine’s Day.