Yep. Today is my birthday. And what a nice present to unwrap this morning in my email inbox: a link to this op-ed by NAACP leader Julian Bond on marriage equality:
WHY PROP 8 MUST FALL: CIVIL RIGHTS
[USA.TODAY] This Sunday we celebrate the 44th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court decision that struck down anti-miscegenation laws that forbade African Americans and whites from marrying.
In the Loving case, a unanimous court held that marriage is "one of the basic civil rights of man…fundamental to our very existence and survival." The court also held that "under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not to marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State."
The Loving decision, which was a watershed moment in the civil rights movement, has deep implications today for gay and lesbian couples who want that essential freedom: to marry.
My wife, Pamela Horowitz, and I were married in Virginia in 1990. Prior to the Loving decision, we could have been sentenced to time in prison for that loving act — committed in the state that likes to claim it "is for lovers."
Of course, prior to the Loving decision, the parents of the current president of the United States would have been committing a felony had they lived in Virginia.
Today, we look at anti-miscegenation laws as a stain on our history and an affront to our beliefs as Americans. In this country, we do not create separate classes of Americans based upon inherent characteristics. Sexual orientation is immutable and unchangeable. It is as much a part of our DNA as our race.
Because I have spent my life fighting to make ours a more just society for all Americans, I'm a supporter of marriage equality. I believe this to be a fight for civil rights.
Fourteen times, the U.S. Supreme Court has said that marriage is a fundamental human right. In Loving v. Virginia, the justices guaranteed that right could not be taken away because of the way we're born. Yet that's exactly what happened when California passed Proposition 8, which declared marriage valid only when between a man and a woman.
Last summer, after a lengthy trial, a federal court declared Prop 8 to be unconstitutional, saying that this discriminatory law does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution "the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples." Almost a year later, the case is on appeal, Prop. 8 still remains on the books, and a motion to throw out the case on blatantly homophobic grounds will be heard in federal district court on Monday.
Prop 8 continues to label some Americans as second class. It denies those Americans the fundamental rights afforded their fellow citizens. Like the anti-miscegenation statutes struck down 44 years ago, Prop 8 serves no purpose but to permit one group of Americans to degrade another.
Mildred Loving passed away in 2008, but on the 40th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision, she reflected on the impact of her case.
"I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all."
Mildred and Richard Loving were not political people — they were a committed couple who believed they should have the ability to share their lives together, just as their neighbors did.
As Mildred Loving said four year ago, "That's what Loving, and loving, are all about."
And that is why Proposition 8 must not stand.
Julian Bond is on the advisory board for the American Foundation for Equal Rights, chairman emeritus of the NAACP, professor of history at the University of Virginia and a scholar in residence at American University.