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"He was tall, for one," said Rosina Watson, recalling what attracted her to her husband. And he was a good dancer, and I liked to dance." Growing up in a Spanish-speaking family that had lived in New Mexico for generations, Rosina Watson said her father initially was furious she was dating a black man from Mississippi. Memories of the Perez case were suddenly revived last May when the California Supreme Court overturned the state's same-sex marriage ban, using the Perez decision as a key precedent.

Davis was black and Perez, from a Spanish-speaking family of Mexican descent, was regarded by state law as white.He discredited the old eugenic tracts underlying the state's rigid race classifications, rejected long-held claims that the mixing of races was bad for the public welfare and declared "the right to marry (was) as fundamental as the right to send one's child to a particular school or the right to have offspring." Prejudice, he wrote, could not be used to infringe on such an important right."He was willing to change the law in response to social conditions," said Rachel Moran, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley.And unlike many other states, California would not prosecute the returning newlyweds under anti-miscegenation laws that governed what race could mix with another -- just as long as they got married someplace else.At a wedding celebration back home, Bill's family, who hosted, was welcoming. Their gifts were those of modest households living in a difficult time: an alarm clock and handmade ashtrays, a blanket from her parents, a used toaster.

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