Recognizing 40th Anniversary of Loving v. Virginia Legalizing Interracial Marriage

[Pages H6187-H6189]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office
 [www.gpo.gov]




     RECOGNIZING 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF LOVING V. VIRGINIA LEGALIZING 
                          INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE

  Ms. BALDWIN. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to 
the resolution (H. Res. 431) recognizing the 40th anniversary of Loving 
v. Virginia legalizing interracial marriage within the United States.
  The Clerk read the title of the resolution.
  The text of the resolution is as follows:

                              H. Res. 431

       Whereas the first anti-miscegenation law in the United 
     States was enacted in Maryland in 1661;
       Whereas miscegenation was typically a felony under State 
     laws prohibiting interracial marriage punishable by 
     imprisonment or hard labor;
       Whereas in 1883, the Supreme Court held in Pace v. Alabama 
     that anti-miscegenation laws were consistent with the equal 
     protection clause of the 14th Amendment as long as the 
     punishments given to both white and black violators are the 
     same;
       Whereas in 1912, a constitutional amendment was proposed in 
     the House of Representatives prohibiting interracial marriage 
     ``between negroes or persons of color and Caucasians'';
       Whereas in 1923, the Supreme Court held in Meyer v. 
     Nebraska that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment 
     guarantees the right of an individual ``to marry, establish a 
     home and bring up children'';
       Whereas in 1924, Virginia enacted the Racial Integrity Act 
     of 1924, which required that a racial description of every 
     person be recorded at birth and prevented marriage between 
     ``white persons'' and non-white persons;
       Whereas in 1948, the California Supreme Court overturned 
     the State's anti-miscegenation statutes, thereby becoming the 
     first State high court to declare a ban on interracial 
     marriage unconstitutional and making California the first 
     State to do so in the 20th century;
       Whereas the California Supreme Court stated in Perez v. 
     Sharp that ``a member of any of these races may find himself 
     barred from marrying the person of his choice and that person 
     to him may be irreplaceable. Human beings are bereft of worth 
     and dignity by a doctrine that would make them as 
     interchangeable as trains'';
       Whereas by 1948, 38 States still forbade interracial 
     marriage, and 6 did so by State constitutional provision;
       Whereas in June of 1958, 2 residents of the Commonwealth of 
     Virginia--Mildred Jeter, a black/Native American woman, and 
     Richard Perry Loving, a Caucasian man--were married in 
     Washington, DC;

[[Page H6188]]

       Whereas upon their return to Virginia, Richard Perry Loving 
     and Mildred Jeter Loving were charged with violating 
     Virginia's anti-miscegenation statutes, a felonious crime;
       Whereas the Lovings subsequently pleaded guilty and were 
     sentenced to 1 year in prison, with the sentence suspended 
     for 25 years on condition that the couple leave the State of 
     Virginia;
       Whereas Leon Bazile, the trial judge of the case, 
     proclaimed that ``Almighty God created the races white, 
     black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate 
     continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement 
     there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he 
     separated the races shows that he did not intend for the 
     races to mix.'';
       Whereas the Lovings moved to the District of Columbia, and 
     in 1963 they began a series of lawsuits challenging their 
     convictions;
       Whereas the convictions were upheld by the State courts, 
     including the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia;
       Whereas the Lovings appealed the decision to the Supreme 
     Court of the United States on the ground that the Virginia 
     anti-miscegenation laws violated the Equal Protection and Due 
     Process Clauses of the 14th Amendment and were therefore 
     unconstitutional;
       Whereas in 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari 
     to Loving v. Virginia and readily overturned the Lovings' 
     convictions;
       Whereas in the unanimous opinion, Chief Justice Earl Warren 
     wrote: ``Marriage is one of the `basic civil rights of man,' 
     fundamental to our very existence and survival. . . . To deny 
     this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the 
     racial classifications embodied in these statutes, 
     classifications so directly subversive of the principle of 
     equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely 
     to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due 
     process of law.'';
       Whereas the opinion also stated that ``the Fourteenth 
     Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be 
     restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our 
     Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of 
     another race resides with the individual and cannot be 
     infringed by the State.'';
       Whereas in 1967, 16 States still had law prohibiting 
     interracial marriage, including Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, 
     Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, 
     North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, 
     and West Virginia;
       Whereas Loving v. Virginia struck down the remaining anti-
     miscegenation laws nationwide;
       Whereas in 2000, Alabama became the last State to remove 
     its anti-miscegenation laws from its statutes;
       Whereas according to the U.S. Census Bureau, from 1970 to 
     2000 the percentage of interracial marriages has increased 
     from 1 percent of all marriages to more than 5 percent;
       Whereas the number of children living in interracial 
     families has quadrupled between 1970 to 2000, going from 
     900,000 to more than 3 million; and
       Whereas June 12th has been proclaimed ``Loving Day'' by 
     cities and towns across the country in commemoration of 
     Loving v. Virginia: Now, therefore, be it
       Resolved,  That the House of Representatives--
       (1) observes the 40th Anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court 
     decision in Loving v. Virginia; and
       (2) commemorates the legacy of Loving v. Virginia in ending 
     the ban on interracial marriage in the United States and in 
     recognizing that marriage is one of the ``basic civil rights 
     of man'' at the heart of the 14th Amendment protections.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Altmire). Pursuant to the rule, the 
gentlewoman from Wisconsin (Ms. Baldwin) and the gentleman from Iowa 
(Mr. King) each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Wisconsin.


                             General Leave

  Ms. BALDWIN. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and to 
include extraneous material on the resolution under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentlewoman from Wisconsin?
  There was no objection.
  Ms. BALDWIN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H. Res. 431, a 
resolution I introduced along with the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. 
Lewis), commemorating the 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the 
landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing interracial marriages within 
the United States.
  I thank Chairman Conyers for expedition consideration of this 
resolution so it could be brought to the floor before the actual date 
of the anniversary which is tomorrow, June 12.
  In June of 1958, two residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 
Mildred Jeter, a black Native American woman, and Richard Perry Loving, 
a Caucasian man, were married in Washington, D.C. Upon their return to 
Virginia, Richard Perry Loving and Mildred Jeter Loving were charged 
with violating Virginia's anti-miscegenation statutes, which made their 
marriage a felony.

                              {time}  1415

  They challenged their convictions, culminating in the June 12, 1967, 
U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Loving v. Virginia, striking down the 
remaining anti-miscegenation laws that were still in effect in 16 
States.
  In the unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court rejected bigotry against 
interracial relations, recognizing an individual's right to marry under 
the 14th amendment. Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote: ``Marriage is one 
of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence 
and survival . . . To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable 
a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, 
classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at 
the heart of the 14th amendment, is surely to deprive all the States' 
citizens of liberty without due process of law.''
  The opinion also stated that ``the 14th amendment requires that the 
freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial 
discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not 
marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot 
be infringed by the State.''
  The Loving decision marked a critical step forward in our Nation's 
struggle toward equal rights for all, particularly full marriage 
equality. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, from 1970 to the year 
2000 the percentage of interracial marriages has increased from 1 
percent of all marriages to more than 5 percent. The number of children 
living in interracial families has quadrupled between 1970 and 2000, 
going from 900,000 to more than 3 million. Because of the decision's 
profound impact in our society, numerous cities and towns across this 
country have already proclaimed June 12 Loving Day in commemoration of 
this decision.
  Indeed, the Supreme Court's opinion forcefully rejected the argument 
employed by Leon Bazile, the trial judge of the case, who defended his 
decision convicting the Lovings as part of God's plan. Unfortunately, 
after 40 years, similar types of arguments are still being employed by 
a few to deny full marriage equality to everyone.
  In commemorating the legacy of Loving v. Virginia in ending the ban 
on interracial marriage in the United States, H. Res. 431 reaffirms the 
Loving court's recognition that marriage is one of the ``basic civil 
rights of man'' at the heart of the 14th amendment protections.
  I strongly urge my colleagues to support this timely resolution.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. KING of Iowa. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  I want to thank the gentlewoman from Wisconsin for presenting this 
resolution to this Congress, and I notice that many of the statements 
that she has made have laid out I think the history of this Loving case 
very well to the Congress, and so what I will seek to do is perhaps 
just add and fill in perhaps some of the blanks that may have been 
left, although I'm not convinced that there are many.
  And that is the emphasis on equal protection and due process clause 
of the 14th amendment. I think it was clear when a unanimous decision 
in the Supreme Court in the Loving case, and it isn't often that you 
see an issue that has been traditionally rooted from the time of our 
Founders up until 1967, have a unanimous decision of the Supreme Court, 
even though it met that resistance at every step of the way throughout 
the entire appeals process until it got to the Supreme Court.
  Today, it looks like a clear decision. It looks easy; it's simple. 
None of us would have any trouble with this Loving decision; but, in 
fact, then it was a matter of an idea whose time had finally come.
  But the Supreme Court laid out very clear language in their decision 
that legislative classifications based on race

[[Page H6189]]

were ``odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the 
doctrine of equality,'' and further condemned Virginia's interracial 
marriage statute. And then the Court concluded: ``There can be no doubt 
that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial 
classifications violates the central meaning of the equal protection 
clause.''
  I just appreciate the privilege to emphasize those things, and then 
I'd like to add then some other thoughts to this record, Mr. Speaker, 
and that is that we rightfully celebrate the anniversary of the 
landmark decision here today. The institution of marriage between one 
man and one woman is older than the Nation itself. It predates 
government itself, and it also limits the power of government because 
traditional families are the fundamental units of our society.
  Through them, we pour through that crucible our values from a father 
and a mother into the children and the values of our patriotism, our 
faith, our work ethic, our culture. The things we eat and the things we 
do, every component of our culture and civilization is concentrated 
through those values of those children that we have and that we're so 
well-blessed with; and without marriage, government would be bound to 
expand to take its place and would try lamely to do so.
  But marriage embraces only one principle, and that is the marriage of 
a union between a man and a woman, and the further distinction of that 
and to have government draw a distinction between people based upon 
their ethnicity should be abhorrent to a free people.
  And I stand here, Mr. Speaker, before you this afternoon, and I take 
this position that I believe we are all created in God's image, and 
what He has created, I believe it's an insult to Him if we draw 
distinctions between His creation. He has also seen to bless us with 
some specific characteristics that help us identify one another. And 
because He has seen to bless us with those characteristics, and in this 
case it was skin color, it doesn't mean it still isn't a reflection of 
God's image.
  And I recall stepping into a church in Port Gibson, Mississippi, the 
Catholic church there that was built in 1848 by the hands of some of 
the family of Jim Bowie, and the priest in that church was Father Tony 
Pudenz, and he showed me in the church that this church that was built 
in 1848, the floor of the church was built for whites, the balcony was 
built for blacks. And just a week before that, they had buried the 
editor of the newspaper who had in 1967 taken his white family from the 
floor of the church and walked his five children and his wife up there 
where they sat in the balcony with the African Americans, thereby 
sending a statement where half of the congregation walked across the 
street to the Episcopal church where they go to church to this very 
day. But the balance of that congregation is an integrated 
congregation.
  And so I would say we can't be for equality if we're not in support 
of intermarriage. God has created us all equally, and based upon that, 
I support this resolution. I think it's appropriate that we bring it 
today.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. BALDWIN. Mr. Speaker, the Loving v. Virginia decision was a 
milestone in our continuing efforts to fulfill the original promises of 
our Constitution, fulfilling the blessings of liberty for all 
Americans. It is highly fitting that we remember and honor the decision 
on its 40th anniversary. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentlewoman from Wisconsin (Ms. Baldwin) that the House suspend the 
rules and agree to the resolution, H. Res. 431.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the resolution was agreed to.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                          ____________________


https://www.congress.gov/crec/2007/06/11/CREC-2007-06-11-pt1-PgH6187.pdf

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