It is worth taking a look at this response to the question from a student asking "Will gay marriage ever be legalized?" by Associate Professor of History Clair Potter from Wesleyan University, it concludes:
And gay marriage will not be legalized because it is a particularly successful institution, because it offers principles for living a life that are easy to adhere to, or because it is comprised of principles that most people truly understand or agree to. As my colleague Lisa Duggan once said in conversation, after Massachusetts legalized gay marriage, “If they love gay marriage now, they’ll love gay divorce.” Rather, marriage is a symbolic realm that stands in for equal rights, so that those rights need not, in the end, be addressed through state redistribution of resources. Marriage, in other words, is not just a romance between two people, as many gay and lesbian advocates portray it: it is a social romance about what constitutes a well-ordered, and orderly, society.
Andrew Sullivan would, I think, approve. I wonder if he has spotted this yet. Does the man *ever* sleep?
I think this response captures the symbolic importance of marriage. I like the idea of a social romance about society. I wonder what the typical conservative view might be characterized as... a gothic novel?