Seeing red? Same-sex marriage debate goes viral
March 26th, 2013
04:26 PM ET
2 years ago

Seeing red? Same-sex marriage debate goes viral

Washington (CNN) – Scroll through your Facebook newsfeed today and there is a good chance you will be seeing red.

A simple pink equal sign on top of a red background - a variation of the Human Rights Campaign’s traditionally blue and yellow logo - has dominated social media. In total, according to Fred Saiz, vice president of communication for the gay-rights organization, the image has been seen by 10 million people on Facebook alone.

The image was first posted at 1 p.m. ET on Monday and since then Saiz said it has "snowballed" into a bigger deal than the HRC expected. While one post by the campaign that used the image was shared 43,000 times, a number of people have saved the image as their own at the HRC's urging and have replaced their profile picture with the pink equal sign.

"It has caught us off guard, to be honest with you," Saiz said. "It has taken off like wild fire."

For an hour Tuesday morning, the Human Rights Campaign website crashed, according to Saiz, because of the traffic they were getting off the image.

As nine justices pondered the future of same-sex marriage in the United States, millions have taken to Facebook and Twitter to litigate the issue. The top ten terms trending on Facebook all related to same-sex marriage, while terms like "SCOTUS" and "Prop8" were trending nationally on Twitter.

One of the top trending terms on Facebook on Tuesday was "equality," according to data from the social networking website. On the day that the Supreme Court heard arguments over Proposition 8, a law that prohibited same-sex marriage in California, use of the term spiked more than 5,000 percent.

This is high, considering the fact that "equality" is a term used every day.

According to Facebook, celebrities like Ricky Martin, Felicity Huffman and George Takei, as well as politicians like Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, changed their Facebook profile pictures to the red and pink image.

Takei, the famed Star Trek actor and prominent gay rights activist, has a massive Facebook following and changed his Facebook profile image to the red logo.

A post from him this morning asking people to adopt the logo has over 64,000 likes and more than 31,000 shares.

Another post overlaying the internet meme "Grumpy Cat" on top of the red logo has quickly gone viral with more than 60,000 likes and 17,000 shares within the first half an hour of posting.

Saiz, from the Human Rights Campaign, called the reaction "unprecedented."

"You always hope that these things will capture the imagination of those that see it," he said. "I think what you can't predict and plan for how individuals with a bigger reach than your own are going to make your reach exponential in nature."

Although an image in favor of same-sex marriage dominated outside the courthouse, justices inside seemed reluctant to extend a sweeping constitutional right for gays and lesbian to wed in all 50 states.

In the first of two days of hearings on cases that have the potential to fundamentally alter how American law treats marriage, Justice Anthony Kennedy - considered the likely deciding vote on the divided court - questioned whether justices should even be hearing the issue.

The overriding legal question in the California case is whether the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law prevents states from defining marriage as that state has.

The Family Research Council, an organization "honoring God's design for marriage and celebrating all who have joined together as man and wife," also created their own shareable social graphic featuring a man and a woman holding hands.

Over the past few days, the image has received over 10,000 likes and shares.

Additionally, the March for Marriage, a Tuesday afternoon event aimed at advocating marriage between a man and a woman, has been posting sharable graphics on its Facebook page in the last week. The page itself has received almost 4,000 likes.

However, these campaigns have been overshadowed on Facebook by the efforts same-sex organizations like the Human Rights Campaign have undertaken.

– CNN's Bill Mears contributed to this report.


Filed under: Same-sex marriage
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    "The overriding legal question in the California case is whether the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law prevents states from defining marriage as that state has."
    -----------–
    What about the 1st Amendment right to the pursuit of happiness?

    March 26, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    If gay people are not allowed to marry, then how do you define LIBERTY, FREEDOM & the "pursuit of happiness?"

    March 26, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. Moose

    Where have the morals and ethics gone ????

    March 26, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  4. Donna

    Rudy NYC
    What about the 1st Amendment right to the pursuit of happiness?
    ===================
    Then there would be no laws prohibiting anything. Is that all you got? Not very compellling to overturn thousands of years of tradition and law.

    March 26, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  5. Mark

    Donna – for thousands of years, polygamy was also the norm, especially in Biblical times. Remind me again how many wives Abraham had? Yet I don't see you advocating for a return to that.

    Typical bigot cherry picking what they want to further their own prejudices . . .

    March 26, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "Scroll through your Facebook newsfeed today "

    NO. Eff Facebook.

    March 26, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "If gay people are not allowed to marry, then how do you define LIBERTY, FREEDOM & the "pursuit of happiness?""

    GOPers/Teatrolls define it this way: "I've got mine, screw you."

    March 26, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "Not very compellling to overturn thousands of years of tradition and law."

    Tradition is not a legal argument and foolish consistencies are the hobgoblins of little minds.

    March 26, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  9. Tommy G

    Moose – Where have the morals and ethics gone ????
    ----

    In a godless society there are no ethics or morals. Anything goes in the name of "pursuit of happiness". It is the secular way.

    March 26, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  10. Skalamoosh

    Does this mean we get the Rainbow back?

    March 26, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  11. tb63

    One does not need a god to have ethics and morals.

    March 26, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  12. just sayin

    tb63 – One does not need a god to have ethics and morals.
    -----–
    while not needed they are far more likely to accompany each other, than not.

    March 26, 2013 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  13. student

    There is no 1st amendment right to the pursuit of happiness. That is found in the Declaration of Independence. The 1st amendment of the Constitution states-

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    March 26, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "Moose – Where have the morals and ethics gone ????"

    Sorry, but our government's "bible" is the Constitution and the 14th Commandment...errrrr Amendment...requires equal treatment OF EVERYONE under the law. That is the "moral" and the "ethics" that govern our government AND our society. Don't like it: move somewhere they use religious scriptures to run the show and make all their governance decisions. I hear Saudi Arabia and Iran are wonderful this time of year.

    "One does not need a god to have ethics and morals."

    And all too often, having one is just an excuse for abandoning them.

    March 26, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "One does not need a god to have ethics and morals."

    And all too often, having one just becomes an excuse for abandoning them.

    March 26, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  16. Tea Party Thomas

    Marriage is between man and woman. Read the bible people.

    March 26, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  17. bbbBBB

    The "pursuit of happiness" is in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution or the First Amendment. The Declaration of Independence has no legal weight.

    March 26, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  18. wrm

    I don't think "=" means what you think it means.

    March 26, 2013 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  19. dan

    The majority of americans are Okay with same sex Leagal Civil marriage. It is ashame that there are those who want to marginalize people based on who they wish to marry. And to those who talk about Thousands of years of tradition. Thats Hogwash, Up until the 60s it was illegal for blacks and whites to marry one another. We actually have Redefined marriage quite a few times over the years. Women used to be considered property of their man. Marriages used to be arranged to keep money in families . People evolve, society evolves and laws must evolve to keep up with society. Again, The Government cant base Legal renderings based on Religious beliefs. Those two things dont always coinside, Legality and Morality are not always the same. Morality is Subjective to what ever belief you subscribe to. However a country is governed by Laws put in place for ALL of its citizens regardless of their Religious affiliation. We are a democracy Not a Theocracy.

    March 26, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  20. Steven

    My partner and I have been a couple for over thirty years now-for richer, for poorer, in sickness, in health, and in so many ways I lose count. Our respective families include us in gatherings. We have attended funerals, weddings, births, and school events. You want to talk about ethics and morals? Get real. We did a long time ago.

    March 26, 2013 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  21. Darrell

    At least keep math out of your agenda. Is there nothing sacred left?

    March 26, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  22. 300 years frm now

    tb63:
    a small 'g' for 'a god' is fine, yet God is compassionate and The Holy One, some things will not sit with Him the way we want.

    March 26, 2013 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  23. Andrea

    Here's some more cherry picking for Mark: We also don't advocate that gays be put to death. I'm so sick of gays talking about their right to happiness and love when they only thing this entire media spectacle boils down to is fiscal benefits.

    March 26, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  24. Sam

    As a society we are fond of changing the lanuage. Mariage is actually, as defined by the creator of marriage, as HOLY MATRIMONY. We can create whatever man-made institutions we want to, but they will never be holy. Abortion used to mean an accidental miscariage, and when a fetus was intentionally killed it was a crime referred to as infantcide.

    March 26, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  25. Ed1

    When two people of the same sex can make a baby together that's what should determine marriage.

    I don't think two men or two women having sex can make a baby enough said.

    You want civil unions with the same status of marriage that's fine but the gay people don't want that for some reason. They would have the same status as married people what's wrong with that.

    March 26, 2013 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
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