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On the one hand, a person's reputation as black or white was usually decisive in practical matters.On the other hand, most laws used a "one drop of blood" rule, which meant that one black ancestor made a person black in the view of the law.
Virginia, there had been several cases on the subject of interracial sexual relations. Interracial marital sex was deemed a felony, whereas extramarital sex ("adultery or fornication") was only a misdemeanor.
Her race has been a point of confusion – during the trial, it seemed clear that she identified herself as black, especially as far as her own lawyer was concerned.
However, upon her arrest, the police report identifies her as "Indian." She said in a 2004 interview, "I am not black." A factor contributing to the confusion is that it was seen at the time of her arrest as advantageous to be "anything but black." At the age of 18, Mildred became pregnant.
Their marriage violated the state's anti-miscegenation statute, the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which prohibited marriage between people classified as "white" and people classified as "colored".
The case was brought by Mildred Loving (née Jeter), a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, who had been sentenced to a year in prison in Virginia for marrying each other.
It has been the subject of several songs and three movies, including the 2016 film Loving. The new Republican legislatures in six states repealed the restrictive laws.