local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 public meetings

 previous edition

 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info
 classifieds info
 internet info
 sun valley central
 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs
Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

Wednesday — February 18, 2004

Opinion Columns

And this, too, shall pass

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

Handwringers fretting about gay marriages are latecomers in the field of forecasting dire consequences for the "sanctity of marriage." In other, earlier times, sentinels of tradition were wrought about nuptial customs being tarnished for other reasons than gays tying the knot.

As recently as 1967, before being struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, at least 19 states had anti-miscegenation laws prohibiting interracial marriages. The notion of blacks and whites marrying each other was treated then with the same rage as gay marriages today.

Catholics marrying Protestants was regarded in its way with the same derision as gay nuptials. Ditto, intermarriage of Jews and Christians.

Nothing was as socially outrageous to guardians of marriage as women giving birth outside wedlock. Long ago, such offspring were branded for life on birth certificates as bastards. But the practice today is commonplace, especially among women who want children but not the burden of a male spouse.

Call it what you will, culture evolves and endures, and with each departure from the existing norm predictions of doom follow.

And yet, in time changes are accepted—until the next upheaval in tradition and another round of name-calling.

Periodic contretemps over change always provides fertile fields for self-righteous opportunists who threaten to prevent change. That’s not new to gay marriage, either.

White and black children attending school together? Public washrooms and restaurants shared by whites and blacks? Impossible, roared custodians of segregation as they waved Confederate flags and unleashed violence until equal civil rights were declared laws of the land.

Remember the agony over Elvis Presley’s hip-grinding style that led television networks to show his performances only from the waist up? And clergymen who led demonstrations where moralists smashed Elvis recordings in protest of his hip movements? The very existence of civilization seemed threatened by Elvis’ swiveling.

Now the anti-gay marriage movement has enlisted President Bush (in an election year) as well as other religious conservatives to threaten changing the U.S. Constitution to protect the "sanctity of marriage." Of course, the Constitution wasn’t created for social whims and political grandstanding. The last such witless change—the 18th amendment prohibiting liquor—was ratified in 1919 then repealed in 1933 as a dismal, useless and humiliating experiment in social prudery.

Politicians playing on fears of an emotionally malleable public had their way by banning known gays from serving in the military. But that’s bound to change. One sign was the ho-hum reaction when several recently retired senior military officers "outed" themselves as gay and criticized the gay ban. The obstacle to change is getting members of Congress to admit their error and reverse a policy depriving patriotic Americans the right to serve their country.

The late Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater, whose conservatism was a purer libertarian variety than today’s authoritarian conservatism, said it best in congressional testimony opposing the gay ban. He didn’t care whether GIs were straight—only whether they could shoot straight.


City of Ketchum

Formula Sports


Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.