June 12th is the anniversary of the 1967 US Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia, which struck down laws in 16 U.S. states banning interracial marriage – mainly between blacks and whites. The US Supreme Court found that such laws restricting the freedom to marry solely based on racial classifications violated the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution. Loving Day is the biggest multiracial celebration in the United States, and there is a movement to make it an official US government holiday. (See Make Loving Day Official.)Loving Day letters

Mildred and Richard Loving, a black woman and a white man, married in Washington D.C. in 1958, and were arrested a few weeks after they returned home to Virginia. They pleaded guilty to charges of “cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of Virginia”, and avoided jail time by agreeing to leave Virginia. They moved to Washington D.C. and wrote to US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Kennedy referred the case to the American Civil Liberties Union. The US Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Warren, unanimously ruled in favor of the young couple. Afterwards, the couple lived together with their three children.

See The Loving Story trailer of the HBO movie.

Mildred and Richard LovingWhat Mildred Loving says mirrors what many of us say today, “I say that marrying who you want to is a right that no man should have anything to do with. It’s a God-given right, I think.”

The US Supreme Court currently considers another landmark decision in the field of marriage equality – Obergefell v. Hodges. The decision in that case is expected prior to the end of the Court’s term this month. They are scheduled to release opinions each Monday and Thursday this month through June 29th. Opinions are released at 10:00 am EST on those days. Where the Loving opinion was unanimous, no one dares to believe that the Obergefell decision will be the same. With a Court sharply divided on liberal versus conservative grounds, the swing vote will likely fall to Justice Anthony Kennedy, widely known to be the moderate middle vote. He authored opinions siding with gay rights in several prior cases, so the hope is that he will likewise author this opinion on the side of the right of same sex couples to marry.

The effect of the Obergefell decision here in Dallas, Texas remains to be seen. The Dallas County Clerk has announced the intention to be the first to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples when the opinion is released, and has requested budget money from Dallas County to staff clerks working overtime to accommodate the rush of couples to marry. “If the court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, within an hour and a half of the opinion, we’ll start issuing licenses,” said Dallas County District Clerk John Warren. (See Dallas County set to issue licenses if ruling favors gay marriage)

Hat tip to my favorite pastor Eric Folkerth for his blog It’s All About Loving. If you don’t read his blog, you should.)

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.