"At my parents’ wedding, in Blacksburg, Virginia, my mom wore a floppy, wide-brimmed hat atop her feathered hair. My dad wore lightly flared pants and had sideburns that almost reached his jaw. Peter, Paul and Mary music played at their ceremony, and at the reception afterward they drank sherbet punch alongside friends and family members dressed in plaid and platform shoes. It was a fairly ordinary American wedding in 1975, save for one distinction: the bride was white, and the groom was Asian.
My dad, a third-generation Japanese-American from Los Angeles, and my mom, from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, had met in Michigan, in 1970, while he was in the Air Force and she was in college studying nursing. They eventually settled in Texas, where they raised my three siblings and me. As a gay man, I’ve often thought about how my parents’ timing was fortuitous. Just a few years earlier, their marriage may not have been legal in the state where they wed, Virginia. The new film “Loving,” directed by Jeff Nichols, tells the story of the couple who changed that: Mildred and Richard Loving, a black woman and a white man who were arrested in Virginia in 1958 and sentenced to prison there after marrying in Washington, D.C. The couple, played by Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton, toiled silently for years, unable to live openly together in their home state, until their case reached the Supreme Court—which, in a unanimous decision in 1967, struck down all interracial-marriage bans throughout the U.S.
The Lovings are the couple whose names we rightfully remember from the case, and they’re indeed the stars of the film. But, buried in the footnotes of the Lovings’ story, a little-known name caught my attention—that of a Japanese-American lawyer who gave Asian-Americans, and families like mine, a voice at a pivotal moment in constitutional history."
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