Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and He placed them on separate continents. The fact that He separated the races shows that He did not intend for the races to mix.-- Virginia judge who refused to uphold a D.C. marriage between a white man and a black woman, 1958.
Richard and Mildred Loving, the couple in question, were banished from their home state and risked getting arrested if they ever returned. To, you know, try to see their family.
Eventually the ACLU took up their case, which in 1967 made it to the Supreme Court. The Court struck down the law against interracial marriage, which at the time was still active in sixteen states.
The book where I read about this is Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage. Gilbert goes on to explain:
At the time, I must also mention, a poll showed that 70 percent of Americans vehemently opposed this ruling. Let me repeat that: In recent American history, seven out of ten Americans still believed that it should be a criminal offense for people of different races to marry each other. But the courts were morally ahead of the general population on this matter... life went on, and everyone got used to the new reality, and the institution of marriage did not collapse for having had its boundaries adjusted just that tiny bit wider...
You see where I'm heading with this, right?
Or rather, you see where history is heading with this?
Gilbert brings up the issue of same-sex marriage, and quotes some right wing homophobe who brings up the lame argument that supporters of gay marriage want to change the definition of marriage. She responds:
The problem with that argument, though, is that the only thing marriage has ever done, historically and definitionally speaking, is to change. Marriage in the Western world changes with every century, adjusting itself constantly around new social standards and new notions of fairness. The Silly Putty-like malleability of the institution, in fact, is the only reason we still have the thing at all. Very few people... would accept marriage on its thirteenth-century terms. Marriage survives, in other words, precisely because it evolves.
For example, the concept of marrying for love would be completely alien to most humans in history. That one detail has changed the meaning of the institution way more than gay marriage ever possibly could. Gilbert elaborates by talking about her relationship to her fiance:
I do not need this man in almost any of the ways that women have needed men over the centuries. I do not need him to protect me physically, because I live in one of the safest societies on earth. I do not need him to provide for me financially, because I have always been the winner of my own bread. I do not need him to extend my circle of kinship, because I have a rich community of friends and neighbors and family all on my own. I do not need him to give me the critical social status of "married woman," because my culture offers respect to unmarried women. I do not need him to father my children, because I have chosen not to become a mother...
I need him only because I happen to adore him, because his company brings me gladness and comfort, and because, as a friend's grandfather once put it, "Sometimes life is too hard to be alone, and sometimes life is too good to be alone."
Times change. Today's 70 percent becomes tomorrow's fringe views. All the people who currently oppose gay marriage will, in future generations, be looked at the same way that we now look at the general population who were against interracial marriage in the 60's.