Couples share struggles, joys as board proclaims June 12 Loving Day

June 11, 2015

John Halseth addresses the board on Thursday as his husband Robin Castro (center) smiles on.

John Halseth choked up as he recounted the day he got the call from his mother, many years ago.  

While many of his family members of Norwegian-descent had graciously accepted his relationship with his partner, the painful message from his own mother that couple would not be allowed to visit the family home, hit to the core.

“When it happened, it was hard. I don’t know if it’s whether Robin is gay or because he is Mexican or both but that’s the kind of thing that still happens in Oregon. I’m thinking my mom will actually come around one day.” 

Since then, the couple has married and often shares their message of the importance of being able to marry the person you love.

They were one of two couples, who bravely shared their struggles before the Board of County Commissions Thursday as it declared June 12, 2015 Loving Day in Multnomah County.  

“Each year we support this proclamation, said Commissioner Loretta Smith.  “And I’m struck by how something so simple as loving someone could have been declared a felony offence.”

The proclamation, brought forth by Commissioner Smith acknowledges the June 12, 1967 landmark Supreme Court ruling, Loving vs. Virginia.   

The Loving case began in 1958 when Mildred, an African American woman and Richard Loving, a Caucasian man wed legally in Washington D.C. The couple was shaken awake in the middle of the night in their Virginia home by police who arrested them because of the state’s ban on interracial marriage. To avoid a year of prison, the Lovings moved to Washington D.C. where they were allowed to marry and live together, only to experience discrimination in renting property, racist taunting, emotional hardship and difficulty supporting their children.

Adrienne Kincaide (right) and her wife Jamie (center) at Thursday's proclamation.

In a desperate plea for justice, Mildred Loving wrote to United States Attorney General Robert Kennedy for help. Her letter ignited a legal battle that rose to the Supreme Court of the United States and ended with a unanimous ruling that it was up to the individual, not the state to decide to marry someone of a different race.

“I was born just slightly 100 days before the Loving decision was handed down,” explained Adrienne Kincade. “I was born in Alabama. So the day I was born, both of my marriages would have been illegal.”

Adrienne Kincade, sat next to her partner Jamie Kincade while describing her lifelong struggles with racism and inequality but also shared how progress towards marriage equality has allowed her new opportunities.    

“We are now able to do things that my sister, my parents, my friends can take for granted,” explained Kincade.

“This was the first year we were able to file our taxes together. It was so nice. We were able to buy a car because our car was on its last legs. Those little things, little things that if something happens to me I know that she gets everything.”

“Honestly, it's what helps me sleep.” 

Commissioners Bailey, Shiprack, McKeel and Smith thanked the couples for their bravery.

“Thank you so much for having the courage to live this journey and get to this day in the last 20 years,” said Commissioner Smith. “It’s great to be able to tell the world who you love and that’s why I do this proclamation.”