At the stroke of midnight on Thursday, gay marriage became legal in Minnesota and Rhode Island — now the 12th and 13th states where same-sex couples can legally tie the knot. This is the latest sign of the breathtakingly "rapid evolution of attitudes toward gay marriage," says E.J. Dionne at The Washington Post.

Not only do a critical mass of Americans either embrace or accept the inevitability of same-sex marriage, Dionne says, but we have also steadily "come to believe that gay people are not social revolutionaries looking to alter the nature of marriage." They just want to participate in the same institution already open to their straight fellow citizens. This is just the opening we need to salvage the flagging institution of marriage in America, he argues. Here's an excerpt:

Social conservatives especially should take note of where Americans are heading. Because the desire of gay people to live in publicly committed relationships is seen increasingly as an endorsement of marriage as it has long been understood, there are new opportunities to defend marriage itself. We need to lay down arms in the culture wars and face up to the urgency of strengthening families....

Well-off Americans are far more likely to be in stable marriages than are the less affluent. This creates a damaging social cycle — economic inequality is breeding family instability even as family instability is deepening economic inequality.

Read the entire article at The Washington Post.