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Editorial: Loving Day

When race matters less

It's Loving Day today.

Loving Day is so called because on June 12, 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Loving v. Virginia, struck down all state laws against interracial marriage.

In 1958, Mildred Jeter (black) and Richard Loving (white) got married in the District of Columbia, where interracial marriage was legal, then went to Virginia, where it wasn't. At 2 a.m., deputies arrested them.

It seems incredible now, but it's true: For more than 300 years, laws existed, first in the colonies, then throughout the States, that barred people from marrying if judged to be of different races. There used to be a word for such unions: miscegenation. This horrible holdover from slavery days is, thank goodness, obsolete.

That suggests, though, that U.S. society really has changed in the last two generations. Interracial marriages continue to grow: According to U.S. Census figures, their number increased fivefold between 1970 and 2000.

The number of people who identify themselves as multiracial or multiethnic is increasing. More than three million children live in interracial households. The U.S. Census Population Estimate says that as of last July, nearly five million people in the United States were of two or more races, a 3 percent jump from 2006.

There's still much work ahead. This country's race conflicts hang on.

The candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama, himself multiethnic, has had a mixed reception. Debate now rages over revisions to the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994, which governs transracial adoption. Should race be taken into account? People disagree.

But disagreement isn't the problem. Prejudice is. Fortunately, that's slowly losing ground.

This country is changing faster, leaving old ideas behind and not asking permission. Loving Day is a day to celebrate any change in society that makes it easier for us to love one another.