Parallels Between The 1958 Loving Couple Story And The Saudi Marriage Permission

30 December 2011 update: A documentary has been made on the “Loving Couple” and will air on HBO the 14th of February 2012. See the end of this post for more information.

“There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the equal protection clause.” (Statement of the court in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Loving VS. Virginia in 1967).

June 12, 2010 marked the 43rd anniversary of the Loving VS. Virginia Supreme Court decision. I saw the announcement online at and it was the first time I’ve ever heard about it in my life. I certainly don’t remember it being covered in any of my history classes. My curiosity about the Loving couple was heightened when I saw their photo (to the left). Mildred Jeter-Loving had African-American and Native American Indian ancestry and her husband Richard Loving was White with European heritage. Both are deceased. As I began to read further, I noticed that there were some parallels between their case and the Saudi marriage permission.

1. They were both from a different race. They were also of a different color, Black and White, which was considered taboo in the United States in the 50s-60’s and on backwards in time. Saudi/non-Saudi relationships are usually of different races or nationalities and looked down upon by some Saudis. If you don’t agree, then you must not be privy to the numerous insults and rejections meted upon non-Saudis by their Saudi relatives. Or maybe you are a Saudi and just don’t want to admit what other Saudis have said in closed circles.

2. Forbidden love. Mildred and Richard were two human beings who met and fell in love. Instead of getting married, they became involved in an illicit relationship which I am neither condoning or advocating. Had there been no Virginia Racial Integrity Act Of 1924 would they have gotten married first? If a Saudi/non-Saudi couple find it difficult to marry they will either get married on the sly without government permission or surpass marriage altogether. So Shaykh Obeikan, a Saudi/non-Saudi couple foregoing the marriage permission to have a pre-marital affair not only harms the ruler’s authority as you say, it is contributing to people harming themselves because there are roadblocks to getting legally married.

3. Their marriage was illegal and almost resulted in jail time after they pled guilty. Saudi/non-Saudi marriages are also illegal if there is no marriage permission approved by the Ministry Of Interior. Violators will have to pay 100,000SR fine and there are rumors of arrest being made if caught marrying without Saudi permission. And even if the couple applies for permission after the fact, there has been silent punishment such as repeatedly “lost” files, rejected files, files locked away in office drawers, refusal of marriage certificates which results in no iqamahs and the Saudi/non-Saudi couple are given a hard time in general.

4. The Loving couple were ordered to leave the state of Virginia in order to suspend their 1 year conviction for a duration of 25 years. They chose to live in Washington, DC but later returned to Virginia where they raised their children. If a Saudi/non-Saudi couple marry without permission, they can’t reside in Saudi Arabia because it is as if their marriage doesn’t exist. They risk being discovered by the muttaween who will show them no mercy if they can’t produce a marriage certificate or any other document proving their marital relationship. Therefore, they usually choose not to live in Saudi Arabia and make their home in a country that recognizes their marriage.

Mildred believed that others had the right to marry whomever they wished. In a 1965 interview with The Washington Evening Star, she explained that her and her husband loved each other and got married but that they were not marrying the state. “The law should allow a person to marry anyone he wants.” (Matriarch Of Racially Mixed Marriages Dies)

Mildred also stated that, “My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone, they have a right to marry. Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.” (Loving on Loving)

How is it that America, a non-Muslim country with democratic laws, got it right back in 1967 to not discriminate on the basis of marriage and Saudi Arabia, a Muslim country with Shari’ah laws, has still not gotten it right in 2010?

Tara Umm Omar

Video: Interracial Love Doc ‘The Loving Story’ To Debut On HBO In February

Lee Bailey’s EurWeb
29 December 2011

Monumental film, “The Loving Story,” based on the civil rights struggle that overturned the interracial marriage ban, will make its television debut on HBO during Black History Month in 2012 appropriately on Valentine’s Day [14 February 2012], according to Shadow and Act. The production is a documentary that focuses on the real-life story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple living in Virginia where interracial relationships were once illegal. But their union brought to the nation’s attention this issue with the US Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia of 1967. The case changed the face of love across the States, forever transforming the fabric of what the U.S. accepted as true love. The film includes exclusive interviews with the family of the couple and the attorneys who worked diligently on the case.

Published by

Tara Umm Omar

American married to a Saudi.

9 thoughts on “Parallels Between The 1958 Loving Couple Story And The Saudi Marriage Permission”

  1. >I live in the American south, where there is still much bigotry — but thankfully no laws that uphold it. I remember when the first African American family moved into my neighborhood, my school. A lot of talk, curiosity, then…a whole lot of nothing. It became a nonissue, as well it should.


  2. >I read about this case in my human rights class, I don't like the idea seriously 😦 But I'm glad everything has change now 🙂


  3. >Angelle- Last year there was a judge in Louisiana that refused to marry a bi-racial couple.C- Was that a university level class?Edward- So true.Thank you all for commenting.


  4. >Tara, that case took place outside of New Orleans where I live. The state fired this Justice of the Peace over this incident. His wife (who supports her husband's bigotry) said her husband has prevented many interracial marriages over the decades. So wrong in so many ways.I like reading your blog because you offer much food for thought on marriage, the basis of our family, our society. Thanks for that.


  5. >Well, I find it all too sad.In Brazil where half of our populations is African descendent, we still have racism.I can see mothers hoping their kids will just marry inside their racial circle, even though it is not OK to say so.I remember when an African descendent family moved to grandma's building, and all she said was:- this neighbourhood is not the same it used to be. We have coloured people here now…Thank God that generation is giving way to a less racist group of people. Or so I


  6. >Inaie- It really is sad when people are judged based upon the color of their skin and not the content of their character. I remember one of my in-laws told me that they hoped to marry white Saudis in order to lighten up their family. I think these ideas actually enable "White supremacy and White superiority" attitudes…that to be white or as close to white as you can is to be a better person with more opportunities. Like you, I hope racism gets less and less as time goes on.


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