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Del. Ken Plum: Virginia is for Loving

by Del. Ken Plum June 21, 2018 at 10:15 am 11 Comments

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

It is somewhat ironic that Loving Day in Virginia, celebrated annually on June 12, has nothing to do with the famous “Virginia is for Lovers” public relations slogan but has much to do about ending a period in history when Virginia was less than loving. Loving Day in Virginia relates to an interracial couple, Mildred and Richard Loving, who were married in the District of Columbia and tried to live near where they grew up in Virginia. They were found guilty of violating state law and banished from their home state for twenty-five years.

The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 in Virginia prohibited marriage between persons classified as white and people classified as colored. Although Mildred and Richard were residents of Caroline County, they went to the District of Columbia to get married to get around this anti-miscegenation law. They returned to live in their home but were arrested because Virginia law did not recognize the D.C. marriage, and furthermore it was also against the law to go outside the state to be married and return as an interracial couple.

The laws under which the Lovings were convicted were eventually appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. One of their lawyers with whom I was later to serve in the House of Delegates, Bernard “Bernie” Cohen, told the Justices that Richard Loving had sent a message to them. “Tell the Court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.”

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court invalidated the Virginia law and all other state laws prohibiting interracial marriage. The case (Loving v Virginia) decided in 1967 is considered a landmark civil rights case that helped to dismantle Jim Crow laws and establish a precedent that was cited in 2015 to invalidate laws prohibiting same-sex marriages.

It is important to recognize Loving Day for the courageous action on the part of Mildred and Richard Loving to allow their case to go forward with the help of the ACLU to challenge an unjust law. Some of our greatest gains in civil rights have come through the courts as legislatures have too many times lacked the political will to do what is right when it might not be popular with some people. It can also be chilling to recognize that this step forward took place just over fifty years ago. We need to study our history and carefully review our current political and societal mores to ensure that such discrimination is not continuing today. Overcoming discrimination and racial biases are not topics of the past but continue to today. We need to support those like the Lovings who stepped up to undo an injustice.

Some long for the “good ole days.” My reading of history suggests that better days are ahead of us. A divided and discriminatory society of the past is not to be celebrated. Virginia needs to be a Commonwealth of lovers of justice, equality and peace.

File photo

  • Willie Reston

    Cue the usual gallery of bozos trying to pin the discrimination on liberals because it was the Democratic party that implemented those laws. Never mind that the party was the overwhelmingly conservative (and racist) party at the time – that means nothing!

    • Hillary

      Angry much?

    • RERSRESQ

      Being for big government isn’t conservative. Supporting racial preferences now shouldn’t be liberal….but it is foisted on us by liberals and “progressives.” Just a new version of racialism.

  • 30yearsinreston

    Usual Plum polemics wrapped up as a history lesson
    He doesnt change his tune

  • Mike M

    So, this week Ken panders to yet another one of the constituencies he hopes to manipulate into voting for him even though he is completely ineffective. In the DNC’s imaginary world, it’s always 1956. In the DNC’s plans all things they don’t like are open to legislation by the Judiciary, because it was once 1958. To disagree with the DNC is to be racist. See how it all links logically? Me neither. Well done, Ken. Well done.

  • KennyP

    I for one LOVE it when Ken reminds us all of the racist “Jim Crow” laws of 1957, but forgets to mention that the DNC, his party, was responsible for 100% of them.

    “Who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past”

    • Willie Reston

      LOL, called it.

      • .

        Who invited KennyP?

  • RoadApples

    Delegate Ken: Please become a 21st Century individual.

  • TheRealMikeSapupello

    I would LOVE it if Ken retired.

  • RERSRESQ

    Plum supports racial preferences in admissions to Virginia colleges and in hiring. Don’t preach to us about 1960s discrimination, which was horrible, when you support racial preferences today by state institutions.

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