Manely Firm - June 2020

Al l fami ly law. Al l around Georgia. Al l around the wor ld.

J une 2020

H onoring N ational L oving D ay The Lovings Win for Civi l Rights

On June 12,1967, the United States Supreme Court declared that all laws that banned interracial marriage were unconstitutional. This decision was Loving v. Virginia, in which Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, were arrested when they arrived home after their wedding. They fought back against the law that prevented them from living and building a family together and, in the end, won. Their victory changed the lives of millions of Americans across the country and still impacts millions of people to this day. This event took place in my lifetime — a surprising reminder that it wasn’t too long ago that people like the Lovings had to fight so hard for the most basic rights, like being able to marry the person you love. It seems that some things never change. When I was growing up in the ‘60s, my mom worked as the director of an arts festival in downtown Atlanta. Her job brought me into contact with cultural experiences I otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to in my small suburb in Cobb County. For one, I had the great honor of meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. because I studied acting with his children. Living in a small town in that time meant things didn’t change as quickly as they may have in bigger cities. I can remember segregated drinking fountains, restrooms, and even restaurants in a county just north of King’s home. The pictures you see in the history books were part of my experience as a child. I remember one moment in particular: I was walking with some of my friends at a shopping center and ahead of us were two high school kids, a white girl and a

you think before the Obergefell decision will be overturned in this present climate? How much farther behind, then, will be Loving? Too many people would gleefully revert back to that degree of power-mad cruelty. The people who fight against interracial and same-sex relationships are saying, “My way is the right way. Your way is the wrong way.” This pattern repeats in most civil rights and family law cases. When someone approaches a family law case from the paradigm of believing that they raised their child a certain way and that anyone who wants to raise their child differently is wrong, they are leading with ego and hubris. That type of thinking doesn’t just extend to interracial families, either, but also to same-sex families. That type of thinking extends across the spectrum. We have represented Native Americans in their struggle to regain their children after a very rigid Georgia Division of Family and Children Services officer found their lifestyle to be unacceptable and un-American to their Puritan expectations. (Now there’s some irony.) The impact of Loving v. Virginia on American civil rights set a course for other lovers. This continues to be an essential piece of what we do in family law. This remains a cause that we believe in. We are hyperaware of the continuing civil rights struggle. That battle isn’t going away, and neither are we.

black boy. They were just walking and talking, not even holding hands, when a car full of white boys pulled up and beat the ever-living crap out of the guy. They took him apart right in front of us little kids for no reason except that he was black and had the audacity to walk with a white girl. That incident is etched into my memory as if it happened just a short while ago. For me, that memory stands out vividly and reminds me daily just how unjust, inhumane, and absurd our society was in that time and, unfortunately, how those same injustices continue to this day. Racism, though prevalent, may not always be as open and notorious, and the victory of the Loving case certainly allowed many couples to form their families in ways they want. But it would be foolish to say, “Well, that was then, and this is now.” We need look no further than Brunswick to understand how much hasn’t changed. If we wait only a decade and witness the continued politization of the Supreme Court, we could well see restrictions on interracial marriage again. Just how long do

Happy Loving Day!

–Michael Manely 1

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