Watch This EXCLUSIVE "Loving" Featurette Highlighting the Supreme Court Case That Paved the Way for Marriage Equality
Fifty-eight years ago, Mildred and Richard Loving married in Washington, D.C., in a ceremony that, in 1958, was illegal because of the Racial Integrity Act of 1924. The act prohibited inter-racial couples from marrying in fear of mixed offspring diluting Virginia's "whiteness."
"The Lovings were accused of two crimes," said Nancy Buirski, director of "The Loving Story" documentary. "One was the anti-miscegenation crime, which was a felony, and that just meant they were not allowed to get married as an inter-racial couple. They were also accused of evading that statute by leaving the state and marrying in Washington, D.C."
Buirski's incredible HBO documentary followed the Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case with unseen photographs and footage, opens up a conversation on marriage equality dated back to well before the fight for gay marriage.
See below for five historic cases that paved the road for nationwide marriage equality:
1. Perez v. Sharp (1948)
This California Supreme Court case declared it was racial discrimination to forbid marriage on the basis of race alone, becoming one of the first states to do so.
2. Loving v. Virginia (1967)
This case for the Supreme Court of the United States case struck down laws across all of the United States, declaring that all Americans have freedom to marry because it is "essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by a free people."
3. Baker v. Nelson (1972)
Frequently considered the first same-sex marriage case by many, this case came about when Richard Baker and James Michael McConnell applied for a marriage license in Minneapolis. Their claims were denied because the court did not "find support for [these arguments] in any decision of the United States Supreme Court."
4. Adams v. Howerton (1982)
Richard Frank Adams, a U.S. citizen, and Anthony Corbett Sullivan, then Australian citizen, received a marriage license in Boulder County, Colorado. When Adams drew up a petition to be sent to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), his petition was denied because "marriage between two males is invalid for immigration purposes and cannot be considered a bona fide marital relationship since neither party... can perform the female functions in marriage." In the end, the United States Supreme Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided that "spouse" was a direct reference to an opposite-sex partner, specifically in regards to immigration law.
5. United States v. Windsor (2013)
Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer had married in Toronto ten years before Spyer was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. After having been married for 44 years, Spyer passed away in 2009. At that time, Windsor was forced to pay over $600,000 in federal and state inheritance taxes because she was not recognized as Spyer's legal spouse. Taken to court on the basis of having violated Equal Protection principles, Windsor won her case in a 5-4 vote. A landmark case for many reasons, including the fact that the client and all members of the winning team were women.
Expected to re-highlight one of these very historic marriage equality cases when it hits theaters on November 4, "Loving" will tell the powerful story of the family who refused to get divorced because their love was not something others could deem inappropriate.
Watch the full trailer below.
Photo Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images