Savvy marketers need to track cultural changes with care. While eager to identify new trends that may redefine strategies, take care to note what re-affirms existing values.

Look at gay marriage for example. Twenty years ago it seemed like a ridiculous notion to many. A generation later, the majority of Americans support it. In the next generation, people will scratch their heads and wonder why it was even a point of debate.

Does this represent a dramatic cultural shift? I would suggest the opposite.

Some of us old enough to remember the 1970’s, or who have at least read our social history lessons, can recall the sexual revolution. It demolished the idea of sexual monogamy. It questioned what it saw as the primitive and imposing institution of marriage itself. Young couples across the country refused to marry, raising children in and out of communes, giving rise to co-habitation, common-law marriage and single parenting. No doubt the sexual revolution left its mark on U.S. culture and how we viewed marriage.

Gay marriage, on the other hand, not only reaffirms the centuries-old tradition of marriage, but many of the family and spiritual values associated with it. Instead of opening the doors for a brave new market trend, it’s simply creating more opportunities for the existing marriage industry. It affirms the deep-rooted value of marriage and takes it to a whole new market segment, further entrenching the values it represents.

So the new trend turns out to be this: more couples are setting up a single household together, combining their economic and emotional forces to navigate society and possibly raise children. Sounds like something right out of the Old Testament to me. What does this drive to legalize and sanction emotional partnerships to a greater segment of society mean to your organization? That’s the issue that should captivate your marketing department’s attention.