Dubuque couple discusses interracial marriage in 2012 - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque couple discusses interracial marriage in 2012

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Robert and Nellie Kimble share a laugh at their kitchen table Sunday morning before church Robert and Nellie Kimble share a laugh at their kitchen table Sunday morning before church
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Loving v. State of Virginia.

In that unanimous decision, justices ruled any ban on interracial marriage is unconstitutional and a violation of 14th Amendment rights.

Robert and Nellie Kimble met at church in Dubuque in the mid 90s and fell for each others' character.

Robert is a black man from Missouri, Nellie is a white woman from Iowa. They got married in 1996, but not without some controversy.

"You know, we had very few members of my family that came to our wedding," Nellie Kimble said at the couple's dining room table Sunday morning.

"Close friends, family members - you name it - weren't very happy with the idea," Robert Kimble said.

The cold shoulder wasn't the only reaction the couple faced.

"People would give stares or, the worst, we had our vehicle vandalized," Robert Kimble said, "and we had a good sense it was racially motivated."

The Kimbles pushed through those hard times, however, letting love define their relationship.

"That's what makes her and I compatible," Kimble said. "It has nothing to do with our color."

The Kimbles said they won over many initial skeptics, including friends and family members, by simply being themselves.

"And how relaxed we are and comfortable who we are as a couple, and so it doesn't put so much emphasis when they see us as an interracial couple because we don't put the emphasis on it in our family," Nellie Kimble said.

Later that morning, the Kimbles traveled to Galena, Ill. to Galena Bible Church, where Robert Kimble is interning, with the eventual goal of becoming a pastor and ministering to the needs of people in Dubuque. Both Robert and Nellie Kimble attended Emmaus Bible College.

"My wife and I both share similar values, and we love each other," Kimble said.

It's a relationship, however, that would not have been so simple just 45 years ago, in parts of the country.

In 1851, Iowa became the third state to reject its law banning interracial marriage. Across the Mississippi River, Illinois followed suit some 23 years later, in 1874. 16 states, however, including down river neighbor Missouri, had laws on the books banning interracial marriage until the 1967 Supreme Court decision overturned them by ruling them unconstitutional.

"I couldn't imagine having some sort of law that prohibited my wife and I from being together," Kimble said.

The couple acknowledges the past but focuses now on the foundations of any good relationship.

"We are very, very happy that we do live in this generation, where we can build our relationship based on things like love and character and things that any human being should have the right to build a relationship on," Robert Kimble said.

The Kimbles have five daughters and say they've taught them it's not about color but about character.

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