Married and non-married relationships

Deema • nerd
So, this is a spin-off from that really negative "Pregnant and not married" topic. Sorry, but it's just hard to have this conversation with all the replies on there.
The OP on that post made some generally untrue accusations about the parenting quality of unmarried couples who don't share a last name. I'm guessing the OP is young and trolling. Let's forget about her for a second. 
My issue is with all of the comments putting down marriage. I think it's hypocritical and just plain mean to defend your choice not to be married by calling marriage "just a piece of paper." It's also untrue. I appreciate the current and future legal rights my marriage gives me, but I also value its symbolism and other non-utilitarian meaning to our lives. That is, it has value beyond it's technical contract *to me* that it may not have for you.
So, let's stop the married vs. unmarried division that post created and let's try to understand each other's choices. 
If you're married, is it "just a piece of paper" or is there more meaning to you? Explain the value of your marriage without insinuating that it's superior. If you don't prefer marriage for your relationship, then why not? Explain the positive aspects without putting down marriage.