June 12 marks the 51st anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the landmark Supreme Court decision that declared all laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional.
In 1958, Mildred Jeter, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, were married in the District of Columbia. The Lovings were entirely unwelcome in their home state of Virginia after the wedding; they were charged with violating the state’s anti-miscegenation statute, which banned all interracial marriages.
The Lovings were found guilty and sentenced to a year in jail, but the trial judge agreed to suspend the sentence if the Lovings agreed to leave the state of Virginia and not return for 25 years.
The couple and their lawyers took the case to the Supreme Court, a legal process that upended their lives as well as the lives of their three children for almost a decade.
The court’s 1967 ruling concluded that Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage violated both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, invalidating all state laws that banned interracial marriage.
To celebrate the watershed moment, we asked our readers to tell us why Loving v. Virginia still matters today and to share the one word that describes their marriage. See what they had to say below.