I believe that changes to marriage as an institution must come from changes in the perception of gender and marriage. I agree with Robson when she says that the focus on equal rights, or the focus on heterosexual intercourse as the definition of marriage, only reinforces normative meanings of what marriage should be. The functionalist approach mentioned is theoretically based on using "real" facts which should be a way to use laws to change things. However, basing rulings off of the reality of peoples lives is really basing rulings off of the normative idea of how peoples lives should be and so emphasizing heteronormative relationships and concepts. Goodman also discusses this as it is stated that reformers arguments are based off of the usual conservative "fundamental" marriage rights and not drawing off of how the courts have redefined marriage. This too reemphasizes the importance and normality of heteronormative marriages. Goodman further discusses how the meanings of marriage and gender must change first showing the innaccuracies of studies on children of various parental marital status' based on biases and manipulation. Because of this it is the definition of "rational", often used as a deciding factor in rulings, that must change before any law can change.
Also, even when certain rulings are made, they are not necessarily upheld or rational. The overriding emphasis on procreation which quite often does not allow same-sex marriages completely overlooks the fact that women who are not able to get pregnant are not interrogated about their 'fundamental biological' disposition nor is it a means to forbid a marriage between a man and a woman who is perhaps not able, or not want to, bear children.
Only changing laws is not effective unless the change in perception has come as well. Laws are manipulatable, are able to be ignored or twisted depending on who is using or abusing them. Hunter's theory is that legalizing same-sex marriage would drastically challenge normative ideas of man/woman and marriage. However, she stresses at the same time the importance of using different techniques than previously used. She believes that the law of marriage is based on gender categories and that "gender dissent" is needed to change the law and that legalization would disrupt gender norms.
Overall I agree, for the most part, with Hunter. While laws absolutely influence people and can change the direction of societies beliefs, I don't think that new laws, or intended function of new laws, can be used unless there is a fundamental change in perception of marriage and gender.
Arguing that allowing same-sex marriages will destroy traditional marriages is an example of both laws being a reflection of society and laws influencing social values. Traditional 'Christian' values have long been implicit in courts rulings although they have not always been outright said. These conservative values are generally reflected in laws and laws are often manipulated to fit those values. In the same way the laws that have been created originally based on conservative normative values reinforce those values through those laws.
The connection between societal values and laws is a circular system that reinforces the other. I do believe that laws influence people and in many ways controls people, in order for new laws to be created and effective, new meanings and perceptions of marriage and gender must be brought about in society.