I am a straight male. As a liberal independent, I'm not one of the conservatives Andrew talks about, however I have say I to do not understand the position of "pro-family" conservatives who then turn around and say that people asking to be allowed to marry and create families.
Yes, marriage creates a lot of rights (some 140 or so I think I've read elsewhere), but it also creates a lot of burdens and requirements. Marriage, even setting aside whatever religious elements, is a unification of two people and their families, making a commitment to each other and to their community with at least the intention of that commitment lasting a lifetime.
In an age where they say that 50% of all marriages will end in divorce I would think that people who in many cases have raised families together already, but now would like legal recognition, would be a cause many people would support. (though I have also recently read some articles casting some doubt on that statistic, mostly because there are some groups where divorce is very high, and others where divorce rates are actually quite low).
This weekend I went to a wedding, a friend of my girlfriends. It was a non-denominational service, presided over by a judge, held at the Adler Planetarium. It was a nice ceremony, the food was better than expected, we danced a bit and got home when we wanted to.
Later this year I will be attending weddings of two of my best friends, one in Israel and one in India. I expect each will be very large, highly emotional affairs and exciting in very different ways. Hopefully Julia will be able to join me on both trips and we will find a way to spend some time relaxing with each other. We may not have a lot of time in Israel, and we're a bit worried about the security situation there, but perhaps we'll be able to spend some time in Paris before or after going to Israel.
In India, which will be in December, we hopefully will be able to take a couple of weeks and travel around.
I mention this because as we approach a year of dating, and our first few months of living together, I begin to get a small taste of what marriage might be like, already the just a year ago incomprehensible concept of planning trips with someone almost a year away is beginning to seem natural, pretty amazing.