NYU Law Review Online

The Legacy of Loving

Loving v. Virginia held unconstitutional laws that forbid interracial marriages. This article argues that the legacy of Loving, in light of later constitutional developments (including the constitutional recognition of gay marriage), should be understood in terms of the larger political and psychological evil of state enforcement of Love Laws, the patriarchal laws that “lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much.” Arundhati Roy. Loving and later constitutional developments express the freeing of ethical voice that arises not only from breaking, but resisting the Love Laws. The article contrasts breaking and resisting the Love Laws through a comparison of the life of the great black gay novelist, James Baldwin, and the life of the young black boy and man in the 2016 movie, Moonlight. The freeing of ethical voice by resisting the Love Laws is also investigated in the interracial marriage of the parents of Barack Obama and its impact on their son. Such resistance—as in the civil rights and anti-war movements as well as second-wave feminism and gay rights—is often met with a reaction patriachal politics, illustrated by the recent election of a patriarchal man, Donald Trump, to the American presidency. Resistance to patriarchy is now, for this reason, more needed than ever.