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Student Project: Right to Marry: Pre- and Post-Loving Decisions

This research guide provides primary and secondary sources pertaining to the right to marry. The guide focuses on interracial marriage and its current implications on same-sex marriage.

Oral Arguments

Zablocki v. Redhail

Hollingsworth v. Perry - oral argument and opinion announcement

Windsor v. United States - oral argument and opinion announcement

Related Search Terms

Below are search terms relevant to this guide and further research on the right to marry:

  • anti-miscegenation
  • anti-miscegenation laws
  • civil rights
  • constitutional law
  • equal protection
  • Fourteenth Amendment
  • interracial marriage
  • Loving v. Virginia
  • marriage
  • marriage equality
  • miscegenation
  • right to marry
  • same-sex marriage
  • fundamental rights

Pre-Loving Decisions

*The list of cases on the page are by no means exhaustive of all the pre- and post-Loving cases that deal with Equal Protection.

Pace v. State, 106 U.S. 583 (1883) - The Court here upheld an Alabama statute forbidding adultery or sexual relations between a white person and a black person. This imposed a greater penalty than the statute for the same conduct by people of the same race.

Naim v. Naim, 197 Va. 80 (1955) - This case justified anti-miscegenation laws by stating that the purpose was to "preserve the racial integrity of its citizens," and to prevent "the corruption of blood," "a mongrel breed of citizens," and "the obliteration of racial pride." Id. at 90. Additionally, it focused on the Tenth Amendment, pointing out that marriage should be left to the states.

McLaughlin v. Florida, 379 U.S. 184 (1964) - A United States Supreme Court case that ruled that a cohabitation law in Florida, part of its anti-miscegenation laws, was unconstitutional. The law prohibited cohabitation of persons of the opposite sex if they were unmarried and of different races. This overturned Pace v. Alabama, 106 U.S. 583, which declared similar statutes constitutional. It did not, however, overturn the part of the laws that prohibited interracial marriage.

Post-Loving and Same-Sex Marriage Decisions

Zablocki v. Redhail, 434 U.S. 374 (1978) - Although this case did not deal specifically with race based discrimination, it relied on the heightened scrutiny to evaluate the law because marriage is a fundamental right and exemplifies that Loving's unwillingness to tolerate restrictions of marriage was not limited to those based on race.

Same-Sex Marriage Cases


Baker v. Nelson, 191 N.W.2d 185 (Minn. 1971) - The Minnesota Supreme Court held that a state law limiting marriage to people of opposite sex did not violate the United States Constitution. On appeal to the United States Supreme Court, the Court dismissed the appeal for lack of federal question.


Adams v. Howerton, 673 F.2d 1036 (9th Cir. 1982) - The Ninth Circuit held that the term "spouse" refers to an opposite sex partner for the purposes of immigration law.


Baehr v. Lewin, 910 P.2d 112 (Hawaii 1996) - Same-sex couples brought suit challenging denials of their applications for marriage licenses. The Hawaii Supreme Court suggested the potential to argue that the denial of marriage to same-sex couples might be sex discrimination, but did not grant same-sex couples the right to marry. The Hawaii Supreme Court sent the case back to trial for a new hearing and later passed he Reciprocal Beneficiaries statute, which made it easier for unmarried friends, partners, or family members to care for each other.

Baker v. Vermont, 170 Vt. 194 (1999) - Same-sex couples brought suit challenging denial of marriage licenses. The Vermont Court found that under "Common Benefits" clause in their state constitution, the state is required to offer same sex couples the same protections opposite-sex couples are afforded.


Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, 798 N.E.2d 941 (Mass. 2003) - The Massachusetts Court found that denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples violated the state constitution in its guarantee of individual liberty and equality and was not rationally related to a legitimate state interest.

Hollingsworth v. Perry, 570 U.S. ___ (2013) - California proposition that banned same-sex marriage was found unconstitutional.

Windsor v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2675 (2013) - Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was found unconstitutional in the district court, affirmed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and affirmed again by the United States Supreme Court.