Monday, May 5, 2008


"Loving" is a poignant last name to have when the state challenges someone's right to a relationship. In the 1960's, Virginia refused to recognize a marriage between Richard and Mildred Loving, leading ( 1967!) to a US Supreme Court case declaring unconstitutional state bans on interracial marriage. Mildred Loving died on Friday; her husband predeceased her by many years. The news today included many tributes to her and the historic case that bears her name.

The movement for marriage for same-sex couples has invoked the Lovings in the quest for marriage equality. And, frankly, opponents of same-sex marriage sound lame when they stretch to differentiate one type of vilified relationship from the other. Mildred Loving herself issued a statement of support for same-sex marriage last year. BUT, it's a good time to keep in mind another Loving ---Fondray Loving and his partner, Olivia Shelltrack, whose legal problems captured headlines two years ago. The couple had lived together for 13 years and had two children plus a third who was Olivia's from a prior relationship. This family constellation fell outside the zoning laws of Black Jack, Missouri; after the couple bought a home there, the city denied them an occupancy permit. The city relented only after the ACLU got involved.

While Mildred Loving's case was about being able to marry the person you love, Fondray Loving's case was about not being required to. Both principles are important.

1 comment:

Libertine said...

I've always understood the true purpose of the family zoning laws as geared towards preventing "frat house" environments with the typical disruptions of loud parties, etc that can come with such living arrangements.

It's a shame that some courts have decided to interpret these laws to discriminate against non-traditional relationships and families.