For Valentine’s Day, a resonant tale of ‘Loving’ and marriage

lovingstory03The very title of the Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia is almost too perfect not to respect the irony of what it represented.

In 1958, Richard Loving married a half-black, half-Native American named Mildred in D.C., then returned to their home in rural Virginia. A month later, sheriff’s deputies entered their bedroom as they slept, arresting them for violating the state’s anti-miscegenation law, which forbid mixing of the races. They were jailed, convicted and eventually banished from the state in a manner more akin to ancient Rome than modern-day America.

Virginia was hardly unique — as Barack Obama’s parents could probably tell you, 21 states banned mixed-race marriages in 1958. It would take nine years, following protracted legal wrangling, before the Lovings could live openly and legally as Virginians.

It is impossible to watch The Loving Story — which debuts on HBO, again ironically, on Valentine’s Day — and not consider it (especially in light of the events this week) as it relates to Proposition 8 and the rights of gays to wed. Indeed, the statement by one of the lawyers representing the Lovings that “marriage is a fundamental right of man” — spoken more than 40 years ago — resonates sharply for any gay person who has felt a lesser person because of the bigotry and antiquated thinking of considering a fellow man as being “other” … whether by race or sexual orientation.

There’s surprisingly little directorial commentary in this documentary, which is made up substantially of real-time newsreel and other footage of the Lovings at home and on TV, and their lawyers strategizing. Little comment is needed, especially when the offensive language of the courts speaks volumes: The races were meant to stay on separate continents, the Virginia county judge opined, cuz that’s how God wanted it.

Two things especially stand out in The Loving Story. The first is the couple at the center of it: A man and a woman of modest means and humble background who simply and truly were in love and wanted to live as man and wife and couldn’t understand what they were doing wrong. The second is that the arguments made — back then and now, on both sides — apply equally to same-sex marriage issues. We’ve come a long way, but damn, we still have so far to go.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Four stars. Airs Feb. 14 at 8 p.m. on HBO.

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: Another attack in a bar; this time it’s a lesbian who’s injured — and then arrested

Laura Gilbert says after she was beat up by patrons of an Opelika, Ala., bar because she’s gay, sheriff’s deputies there arrested her instead of her attackers.

Back on Jan. 28 we told you about John Skaggs, a 52-year-old gay man who was beaten with a pool cue in a Shreveport bar by another man who allegedly said he was going to beat Skaggs up because Skaggs is gay. The suspect in that case, 32-year-old William Payne, has been arrested and charged with attempted second-degree murder and the commission of a hate crime.

In that case, the owner of the bar, Tim Huck, told KLSA 12 television news the attack was unprovoked and was “totally 100 percent a hate crime for his sexual orientation.”

Now comes word from Opelika, Ala., about another gay-bashing in a bar, only this time the victim was a lesbian. And this time, law enforcement officers who arrived at the scene arrested only the woman who’d been beat up.

Laura Gilbert, 25, told WRBL 3 News that she had gone to The Villa outside Opelika with her friend from high school, Sheila Siddall, to celebrate Siddall’s birthday by singing karaoke. Gilbert said she felt uncomfortable as soon as she walked into the bar and people began staring at her, but she stayed because she didn’t want to ruin Siddall’s birthday celebration.

Later, when Gilbert and Siddall started to leave the bar, they were confronted by a woman who started a fistfight that moved outside and grew to include about 12 people, including two men. Siddall called 911 on her cell phone, but when sheriff’s deputies arrived they arrested only Gilbert. Siddall said the officers refused to even listen to her’s and Gilbert’s side of the story and were “over there cutting up with the ones who did it [beat up Gilbert].” New reports also indicated that the only person who suffered any injuries was Gilbert.

Gilbert is charged with disorderly conduct and public intoxication.

Sheriff Jay Jones said that had deputies been told the fight was a hate crime, they would have reported it as such, and said they did not get information for the report from Gilbert and Siddall because the two were too intoxicated. When asked why the deputies did take statements from others at the scene who were also intoxicated, James said the deputies did the best they could.

Gilbert and Siddall have both since filed separate reports about the fight, but Gilbert told WRBL that she still hasn’t been contacted by officials.

Alabama does have a hate crime law, but it does not include sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

—  admin

Stay of Prop 8 ruling prompts protests on a day when gay marriages would have resumed

Nine protesters were arrested Thursday morning following a sit-in at the San Diego County Clerk’s Office, where a gay couple requested a marriage license. The couple had scheduled their appointment prior to a federal appeals court’s decision earlier this week to put same-sex marriages on hold until at least December. Sheriff’s deputies eventually showed up in full riot gear (shown above) to arrest the nine protesters, who are members of the San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality. More pics from the protest can be found here. According to the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, supporters have called an emergency rally for 5 p.m. outside the jail to protest the arrests and demand the activists’ immediate release.

Meanwhile, up the road in West Hollywood, a rally is planned for 6 p.m. Thursday night at Santa Monica Blvd. and San Vicente Blvd. From the Facebook event page:

Although Judge Walker’s decision was a victory for Prop 8 opponents, the fight is NOT over. Do not let that victorious feeling make you complacent! Let it be known that we will remain vigilant and active until marriage equality is restored in California!

UPDATE: Here’s some video of the San Diego protest:

—  John Wright