I'm seeking opinions on the use of the plain quotation mark in HTML content, versus use of the equivalent entity, ".

I've always viewed the plain quotation mark as one of those things that you can get away with, but shouldn't. Right now, though, I have to publish a large quantity of stuff that looks like this:

"message": "string",

The HTML looks like this:

Code:
&quot;message&quot;: &quot;<span class='pl'>string</span>&quot;,
It sure would be easier to read and write if I could do this instead:

Code:
"message": "<span class='pl'>string</span>",
Suddenly using the HTML entity because it exists doesn't seem as wise as it used to. Are there stronger reasons to use it than that?