This morning the Iowa Supreme Court became the fourth state supreme court to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. Justifying his decision Iowa Supreme Court Justice Mark Cady invoked his court’s 1839 decision which struck down slavery laws. Heritage’s Matthew Spalding addressed the specious argument back in 2003:

The argument of these judges is that homosexual “marriage” is simply the extension of privileges to a discriminated class in the name of civil rights. The parallel is made to the Supreme Court’s striking down, as instances of arbitrary and invidious discrimination, statutes that had been drawn according to race, in particular laws against interracial marriage.

But this analogy does not work. The first court faced with this argument as the ground used to justify same-sex “marriage” made the obvious point: “in commonsense and in a constitutional sense, there is a clear distinction between a marital restriction based merely upon race and one based upon the fundamental difference in sex.”

What is happening is no minor adjustment, a slight change in degree that just extends benefits or rights to a larger class, but a substantive change in the essence of the institution. It does not expand marriage; it alters its core meaning, for to redefine marriage so that it is not intrinsically related to the relationship between fathers, mothers, and children formally severs the institution from its nature and purpose.

Expanding marriage supposedly to make it more inclusive, no matter what we call the new arrangement, necessarily ends marriage as we now know it by remaking the institution into something different: a mere contract between any two individuals.