Mildred Delores Loving (née Jeter; July 22, 1939 – May 2, 2008) and her husband Richard Perry Loving (October 29, 1933 – June 29, 1975) were an American married couple who were the plaintiffs in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia (1967). Their marriage has been the subject of three movies, including the 2016 drama Loving, and several songs. The Lovings were criminally charged with interracial marriage under a Virginia statute banning such marriages, and were forced to leave the state to avoid being jailed. They moved to Washington, D.C., but wanted to return to their home town. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), they filed suit to overturn the law. In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled in their favor, striking down the Virginia statute and all state anti-miscegenation laws as unconstitutional, for violating due process and equal protection of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment. On June 29, 1975, a drunk driver struck the Lovings’ car in Caroline County, Virginia. Richard was killed in the crash, at the age of 41. Mildred lost her right eye.
With the exception of a 2007 statement on LGBT rights, Mildred lived “a quiet, private life declining interviews and staying clear of the spotlight” after Loving and the passing of her husband. On the 40th anniversary of the decision, she stated: “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.” Beginning in 2013, the case was cited as precedent in U.S. federal court decisions holding restrictions on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, including in the U.S. Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges (2015).
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