Celebrate Loving Day: When Interracial Marriages Became Legal On June 12, 1967

Alé Dalton is Hispanic, and her husband is white. Today, they celebrate the Supreme Court case that made their marriage possible.

Today is a day of celebration in my home. Forty-five years ago, two brave people who stood up for their love gave me the greatest gift I never asked for but couldn’t imagine living without, the ability to legally marry the man I fell in love with. On June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court decided Loving v. Virginia, making interracial marriages legal in every state, ensuring freedom in choosing a life-long partner. Today is a commemoration of that special day, a holiday known to some as “Loving Day.”

As the daughter of immigrants who strove to immerse me in American culture through every way possible, I never saw myself as a “minority.” Even though I was unlike my peers in many ways, I felt far more comfortable with American culture than my own. As I got older and began dating, I was consistently attracted to guys outside my race, but having grown up around these boys, never saw the significance of such a relationship.

Soon after I began dating my husband, I remember thinking that we were by definition an interracial couple, though it felt funny to think of such “boundaries” when we clearly saw each other without color. Because of this, we began having frank conversations about race and culture and how it impacted us differently, he as a white man and me as a Hispanic woman. While my husband was raised in a family that never harped on peoples’ outward differences and has always made me feel nothing but love, he grew up in a state where interracial marriages became forcibly legal because of the Loving decision and where, even today, we’ll occasionally witness double takes and peoples’ assumptions of what our spouses should look like, whatever that means.

It’s exactly for those reasons why we celebrate and share Loving Day. It seems far-fetched that people still assume a white man should be married to a white woman, or a Hispanic woman married to anyone but a white man, but it’s a reality. However, demographically, times are changing and it’s exciting. The Pew Research Center recently published a report showing that interracial marriages had reached an all-time high of 8.4% as opposed to just 3% in 1980. This number will only keep growing with time, but this will not automatically mean that everyone will accept it as a new normal. So it’s up to everyone who realizes the necessity of promoting equality to share days like Loving Day and show that interracial couples are an integral part of the American demographic landscape.

For my husband, Loving Day in some ways means more than it does to me. He refers to it as a chance to truly understand a part of civil rights history. As a white man, he feels detached from some watershed moments that changed history because his family never experienced the “other” side, but much like Richard Loving, he knows why it was crucial to fight back. He also acknowledges that if it were not for their bravery, our life would not just be completely different, it simply would not be.

The security of knowing that we will never be interrupted in the middle of our sleep and be carted off to jail for sharing a life is something that can fall to the background of a busy modern life, but we take full advantage of days like Loving Day to highlight the importance of recognizing that we are all equal. Not just under the law, but also in love, and that it took brave people to stand up to be where we are today and that progress continues only when moments like Loving v. Virginia are not forgotten.

Alé Dalton is a future law student who plans to use her degree to further women’s rights and equality in the workplace. Tanner Dalton is a worship leader and Alé’s biggest fan. The Daltons love sharing their story, the New York Yankees, and traveling; they call Nashville home.

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