Prior to the 1967 United States Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia, many states had laws that banned the intermarriage of whites with black or other minorities. Since then, the number of interracial marriages has increased and the attitudes of society have shifted. Americans born in the 21st century will shake their heads in disbelief on learning that 40 states once had laws prohibiting interracial marriage. The Supreme Court struck down the last of these statutes in the 1967 case of Mildred and Richard Loving, a black woman and a white man who were arrested and banished from Virginia for the crime of being married.
Before Loving v. Virginia, there had been several cases on the subject of interracial relations. In Pace v. Alabama (1883), the Supreme Court ruled that the conviction of an Alabama couple for interracial sex, affirmed on appeal by the Alabama Supreme Court, did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. Interracial marital sex was deemed a felony, whereas extramarital sex ("adultery or fornication") was only a misdemeanor. On appeal, the United States Supreme Court ruled that interracial sex was not a violation of the equal protection clause because whites and non-whites were punished in equal measure for the offense of engaging in interracial sex. After Pace v. Alabama, the constitutionality of anti-miscegenation laws banning marriage and sex between whites and non-whites remained unchallenged until the 1920's.
In Kirby v. Kirby (1921), Mr. Kirby asked the state of Arizona for an annulment of his marriage. He charged that his marriage was invalid because his wife was of 'negro' descent, thus violating the state's anti-miscegenation law. The Arizona Supreme Court judged Mrs. Kirby's race by observing her physical characteristics and determined that she was of mixed race, therefore granting Mr. Kirby's annulment. In the Monks case (Estate of Monks, 4. Civ. 2835, Records of California Court of Appeals, Fourth district), the Superior Court of San Diego County in 1939 decided to invalidate the marriage of Marie Antoinette and Allan Monks because she was deemed to have "one eighth negro blood.