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What history can teach us about love, marriage and human rights

I don’t understand how people can fight love. Love is our greatest asset. Religious and non-religious folk alike will tell you that love is above all things. In the Bible, it’s above faith and hope. Love. And yet every day there are people working diligently against love.

The odds are stacked against love. And they certainly have been stacked against love in recent election years, as states have passed amendments that define marriage as between a man and a woman, or laws that have deemed gay marriage null and void.

People will quote the Bible or their religious text of choice to say that in our Christian Nation, a man and a woman make a marriage. “God intended for a man and a woman, for raising families.”

The gay-marriage fight has not been the first in which folks have used God as a way to take away human rights.

Take 1958, when an adorable newlywed couple named Mildred and Richard Loving were caught in bed in their Virginia home during a police raid. Police were there to try and find the couple in the act. It was illegal for Mildred and Richard to have sex; Mildred was African- and Native-American; Richard was white.

It was also illegal for Mildred and Richard to be married, thanks to Virginia’s wonderfully-named Racial Integrity Act. But when Mildred pointed police to a marriage certificate signed in the District of Columbia, police used that as evidence that the couple violated the ban by marrying in another state and then returning to Virginia.

It started a heated trial during which the Lovings were sentenced to one year in prison, followed by probation as long as the couple stayed out of Virginia for the next 25 years. When the Lovings pled guilty, trial judge Leon Bazile echoed Johann Friedrich Blumenbach’s 18th-century interpretation of race.

Bazile said:

“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.”

This led to a very long battle for the Lovings – who moved back to D.C., and when the ACLU filed a lawsuit on their behalf, it went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, who declared any bans on interracial marriage unconstitutional.

It’s always a sad tale when you hear of two adults being imprisoned and barred from a state simply for loving one another. It’s a sadder tale when people cast a ballot or issue an opinion that says, “Your ability to love means nothing in this world. It is insignificant. It is not the same.”

I really can’t say anything else on this that Keith Olbermann didn’t cover earlier this week.

This is the one time when I feel Keith’s pain, I share his sadness and frustration.

Just listen.

So. What now?

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