Although segregation no longer existed in the physical sense with public spaces being desegregated, signs of overt racism still existed regarding marriage laws. In 1967, Virginia was one of the sixteen states that outlawed interracial marriage. Punishments for violating these laws were inconsistent in states as it ranged from fines, felonies, or a misdemeanor. States ,such as Virginia, banned going to another jurisdiction to marry and returning to the state, in the case of the Loving’s. These laws banning marriage between white and black citizens have existed since the 1600’s. They were originally called anti miscegenation statutes and forty one states used to have these laws. The Loving’s were not the first to challenge anti miscegenation laws as plenty before them had tried. For example, Jackson v. Alabama, Naim v. Naim, and Pace vs. Alabama was rejected by the Supreme Court regarding anti miscegenation laws. This was because these court cases were during active segregation and Naim v. Naim was too close to the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling in the Supreme Court. The justices simply did not want to deal with interracial marriage court cases during this time period. Loving vs. Virginia was simply a court case that happened at the perfect time historically.1 Loving and Virginia overturned interracial marriage laws across the United States.

The Supreme Court ruling did not send states rushing to remove intermarriage laws. There was a lot of pushback from states. Virginia repealed the intermarriage law in 1968, but did not officially rid the state laws regarding race until 1975. Federal courts had to intervene in Delaware to force compliance and Delaware did not remove anti miscegenation laws until 1974. In Florida, a Dale County clerk refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple until Florida’s Supreme Court stepped in. Florida repealed anti miscegenation laws in small steps in 1968 and 1969. Texas, West Virginia, and Missouri repealed their laws in 1969. North Carolina followed suit a year later. South Carolina did not remove the law until a 1969 ruling by the attorney general and did so piece by piece in 1970-1972.2 Alabama was the last state to reappeal the clause from the state constitution in 2000.3

One reason why states were turtle crawling to remove anti miscegenation laws is because the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Loving’s case did not create an immediate hurry by interracial couples rushing to the town clerks to get marriage licenses. Regardless, this was an extraordinary moment for interracial couples finally being able to marry.4

  1. Phyl Newbeck, Virginia Hasn’t Always Been for Lovers: Interracial Marriage Bans and the Case of Richard and Mildred Loving. Illinois: Southern Illinois University, 2008 1-10. ↩︎
  2. Newbeck, Virginia Hasn’t Always Been for Lovers, 193-194 ↩︎
  3. “Loving v. Virginia: 1967 & Supreme Court Case – History.” November 17, 2017. ↩︎
  4. Newbeck, Virginia Hasn’t Always Been for Lovers, 194-196 ↩︎