I think gay couples deserve exacly the same rights as any other couple get, there's no doubt about it. However, I believe it'll be easier to do if the issue will be separated from the marriage institution. Connecting couples' rights to marriage hurts not only the gay community, but also couples who just don't want to get marriged, or can't from any other reason.
Of course there should be a way for gay couples to get marriged if they choose it, however, in places where the marrige is connected to religion, that might still be a problem. In that case, I don't really understand why someone will want to get marriged in an institute that has no respect and recognition to him..