To some people in Virginia, the fight over legalization of same-sex marriage echoes a decades-old battle over the state's 1924 law banning marriage between white and black people.

"You're talking about pure prejudice as the basis of both laws," argued Philip J. Hirschkop, who as a young lawyer in the 1960s represented an interracial couple that successfully challenged Virginia's ban on "miscegenation," or mixing of the races.

But opponents of gay marriage reject the comparison.

"It's a slur and a slander on all those Americans who understand that there is something unique and special about husbands and wives coming together in marriage," said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage [NOM], a Washington-based group that opposes same-sex marriage.

In 1958, two Virginia residents, Mildred Loving, a black woman, and her white husband, Richard Loving, went to Washington, D.C., to get married. After they returned to Virginia, police burst into their bedroom in the middle of the night, and arrested them for violating the Racial Integrity Act of 1924. Their one-year jail sentence was suspended on the condition that they leave Virginia for 25 years.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous 1967 decision, struck down the Virginia law — and similar ones in roughly one-third of the states.


http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/hear-race-echoes-va-gay-marriage-ban-23211865