Virginia is for Lovers? Perhaps….   Leave a comment

File:Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving.jpg

Travelling through Virginia recently, I was reminded of a Constitutional Law class I had taken a few years ago as a young law student, when I came across a case that appeals to me on many levels, the aptly named, Loving vs. Virginia. 

The case involved what was then Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law.  OK, I don’t really expect most people to know what that is.  Miscegenation is the mixing of races– in this case the Virginia law prohibited the marriage of people of the “white ” race and people of “colored” races.  The case was brought by Mrs. Loving, a Black Woman who had married a White Man.  The Wikipedia write-up of the case sets out the facts rather nicely (Gracias, Wikipedia!):

At the age of 18, Mildred became pregnant, and in June 1958 the couple traveled to Washington, D.C. to marry, thereby evading Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which made interracial marriage a crime.  They returned to the small town of Central Point, Virginia.  Based on an anonymous tip, local police raided their home late one night, hoping to find them having sex, which was also a crime according to Virginia law.  When the officers found the Lovings sleeping in their bed, Mildred pointed out their marriage certificate on the bedroom wall.  That certificate became the evidence for the criminal charge of “cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth” that was brought against them.               

*                             *                           *

On January 6, 1959, the Lovings pled guilty and were sentenced to one year in prison, with the sentence suspended for 25 years on condition that the couple leave the state of Virginia.  They did so, moving to the District of Columbia. 

In June of 1967 the US Supreme Court’s decision, in Loving v. Virginia, invalidated the Virgina law putting an end to race based restrictions on marriage. 

  220px-US_miscegenation_svgDates of repeal of US anti-miscegenation laws by state:
   Grey: No anti-miscegenation laws passed
   Green: Repealed before 1887
   Amber: Repealed from 1948 to 1967
   Red: Repealed 12 June 1967 (the day Loving v. Virginia was decided)

The Loving case, even if it did not specifically address the right to privacy, in my mind is all about privacy and what happens within the sanctus sanctorum of the bedroom, of the home. 

Yes, thanks to that 1967 Supreme Court, we can now say that Virginia is for Lovings.  But as good as that result was 46 years ago, as a society we need to deal with volatile social issues regarding race relations and marriage.

I like to think that our country is a more open place now, but am reminded that in some respects it is not and that there are private places that the Government continues to seek to regulate and monitor.  Think of the laws in a number of states prohibiting same-sex marriage.  (Think also of the recent disclosure of the NSA’s efforts to track our electronic communications– but don’t think too hard about that one…)

The 2013 Supreme Court moved the needle toward nationwide equal recognition of gay marriage.  But unlike the Loving case, there is still work to do on the gay marriage front since the court did not directly decide that prohibitions on gay marriage are unconstitutional.  After these recent cases, only about 30 percent of Americans will live in states where gay marriage is legal.  Virginia has yet to legalize it.

DFP Same-sex marriage ruling

While I appear to have been beating up on Virginia, here, let me say that I have a very favorable impression of the state and the people I have met there.  To me Virginia is in many respects a microcosm of the values of our country.  

Painted CornerHaving painted myself into a corner, how do I get back to the real purpose of this blog?  WINE.  A Sybarite has to do what Sybarite has to do…

Gather a bunch of our hetero, homo, black, white, latino, you name it, friends and have a picnic with lots of great food and some Virginia wines. 

During our recent trip to Virginia from Linden Vineyards.  Located in the Virginia Blue Ridge, Linden has been producing wines in Virginia since the 1987 vintage.  Not a very long history, but the wines have a nice energy to them.  Owner-winemaker, Jim Law (whom we did not have a chance to meet), is clearly interested in putting out a quality product.  We tasted through a number of Linden’s current releases and were particularly impressed by three of them that made it back to Connecticut with us.

Seyval 2011 ($20).  The Seyval is made from seyval blanc, a hybrid grape that is, interestingly, outlawed in the EU because it contains non-vinifera genes.  No matter.  In Virginia, this varietal produces an energetic and minerally white wine with citrus notes that is reminiscent of Sauvignon blanc.  Built to be drunk with shellfish or milder cheeses, we grabbed a half case of this before we left the winery.   Rated ** 1/2 out of 4*

Vidal Riesling  2010 ($19).  A blend of Riesling and Vidal (another hybrid varietal).  This wine had an engaging energy and an immediacy that, coupled with the pear and tropical fruit (think lychee) notes, is a joy to sip to the last drop.  Rated **1/2 out of 4*

Petit Verdot 2010 ($28).  This is a hefty effort with a goodly amount of black and blue fruit with enticing aromas that jump out of the glass.  Equally at home with an aged Gruyère as with a grilled pork chop, this is a handsome food wine.  Rated *** out of 4*

We are looking forward to our next visit to Linden.  If you live in the D.C. area, put it on your list.

Posted July 24, 2013 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

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