Seeing red? Same-sex marriage debate goes viral
March 26th, 2013
04:26 PM ET
1 year 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. Patrick

    I totally agree that gays and lesbians should have the right to marry. Equal rights and protections should be extended to all. My question, though, is to Rudy NYC. Where in the 1st Amendment does it say we have the right to happiness? The answer is, it doesn't. "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." – That's the 1st Amendment. You're thinking of the Declaration of Independence, which has no legal standing. If you're gonna argue for something, at least get your facts straight or you end up making yourself and your cause look bad.

    March 26, 2013 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  2. Robert Gomez

    Equal was created by God,when he created life.a man and a woman to multiply the family tree,male and female creatures of the sea and land to multiply for food, laws were created by humans and it's out of control I rather follow God's law. Soon God will change this world of inequality,greed and sin

    March 26, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  3. L.J. Rhodes

    I'm going to make this very simple for everyone. To deny American citizens equal rights isn't just un-American and un-patriotic, it's a betrayal of one's fellow countrymen, which is the very definition of traitor. Every single person who opposes marriage equality is just that: un-American, un-patriotic and a traitor.

    You either believe in freedom and equality, which are the most fundamental tenets of what America stands for (as these things were the entire purpose for the founding of the United States, as stated right there in the Declaration of Independence), or you don't. Which means you either believe in America, or you don't. There's absolutely no middle ground on this.

    March 26, 2013 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  4. Stanley Winford

    The correct question is not "where have the morals gone", but "where have the morals been?" The answer: emerging and getting stronger by the day.

    March 26, 2013 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  5. Bruce InCharlotte

    CNN shows its bias by providing links in this article to George Takei's symbols but nothing for the "other side" – no clickable links for the March for Marriage or Family Research Council.

    Fair and balanced? Not so much.

    March 26, 2013 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  6. Datch

    The proliferation of these HRC symbols was the last straw that led to my deactivating my facebook account today. HRC does not represent me (yes, I'm a lesbian), and the use of their logo is no better than everyone putting up a Starbucks logo on this day. After all, Starbucks has been quite supportive about this issue....but I'd never dream of doing that either. There are many many LGBT people who feel that HRC has never represented their interests, and is far too focused on assimilation, leaving behind many within our community. I've never been as depressed as when everyone i knew started putting the HRC symbol up.

    March 26, 2013 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  7. L.J. Rhodes

    Think about this. Convicted rapists and murderers (of children, even!) serving life sentences without the possibility of parole, or who are even on death row, and who might not even be allowed to have conjugal visits to reproduce, let alone be allowed to live with their husbands or wives as a reason to justify being married, are still allowed to marry. Yet, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens who would never lift a finger to hurt anyone are denied the right to marry.

    Just how sick do you have to be to believe in treating human beings like this? I honestly can't fathom it.

    March 26, 2013 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  8. Steve

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA_

    Simple, same way sibblings can't get married

    March 26, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  9. WCS

    So very sad. One commenter mentions "What about the 1st Amendment right to the pursuit of happiness?" and others respond to him without ever asking, "What 1st Amendment right to the pursuit of happiness?" There is no such thing. Here is what the First Amendment says:

    "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."

    You'd hope every citizen would know that. Can a democracy based upon ignorance survive?

    March 26, 2013 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  10. Terri

    It is always funny to me when "Christians" make claims that only they have ethics and morals. Ethics and morals are born from what makes a society stronger an helps it function, it has nothing to do with "God" unless that is what helps YOU be a better person. If it does, that is great, I have no problem with it....until you start believing that puts you ahead of someone else in society who doesn't share your belief. We are not a Christian nation, we are a nation where we are allowed to believe as we wish. There are plenty of nations where a religious text governs, the USA is no one of them, most are in the Middle East.

    Equality, liberty, justice, these are all ways we describe the USA...we need to live by this code.

    March 26, 2013 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  11. Denise

    Thousands of years of tradition and law?!?! Exactly how old is the USA, again?

    March 26, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  12. Benway

    The first amendment doesn't guarantee the right to pursue happiness. That's in the preamble. You're confusing a guiding principle with an enforceable provision.

    March 27, 2013 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  13. Nicholas Smith

    Best Sign: "= = *" Simple, elegant, says it all.

    March 27, 2013 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  14. Nicholas Smith

    AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO LIVE IN A COUNTRY WITHOUT GUNS: Go ahead, move to one of them. But if you want to live here, remember that your right to live freely here was won with the lives and blood of a legion of people with guns that fought and killed with those guns. In fact, they are still doing it. So quit complaining, quit trying to disarm the rest of us, and be happy. God bless and keep you.

    March 27, 2013 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  15. unlost1

    "What about the 1st Amendment right life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness?"

    Aborted babies have none of these

    March 27, 2013 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  16. Nicholas Smith

    This is an open letter to the people who want to live in a country without guns: Go ahead, move to one of them. But if you want to live here, remember that your right to live freely here was won with the lives and blood of a legion of people with guns that fought and killed with those guns. In fact, they are still doing it. So quit complaining, quit trying to disarm the rest of us, and be happy. God bless and keep you healthy and prosperous.

    March 27, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  17. stevie7

    Morals and ethics should not be obtained from archaic books that also advocate the murder of various believers or the stoning of rape victims.

    The pursuit of happiness is the first amendment?!? Someone failed fourth grade civics

    March 27, 2013 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  18. alex

    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?

    __________________________
    the first amendement was about the pursuit of happiness?....i must have had some community college dropouts as teachers for my govt classes

    March 27, 2013 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  19. Fr33th1nk3r

    "In a godless society there are no ethics or morals."
    -
    Typical brainwashed religious zombie sentiments– anything other than MY WAY is immoral. Yet those same religious people seem to have no problem worshipping a Bronze-Aged text that endorses slavery, genocide, chauvenism, and human sacrifice.
    Sorry, TOMMY G, but ethics and morals become relative when you endorse absurdities like global floods that leave no trace and talking snakes.

    March 27, 2013 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  20. Fr33th1nk3r

    "One does not need a god to have ethics and morals."
    -
    Especially when that god endorses slavery, genocide, chauvenism, and human sacrifice, among many other atrocities.

    March 27, 2013 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  21. LBB

    I am a heterosexual, married woman, and mother of two. I had the freedom and right to love and marry anyone I wanted. No one tells me what I can and cannot do in the bedroom. I had my children how I wanted, one biological and one adopted. I would like my gay friends and family to have these same freedoms and rights.

    March 27, 2013 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  22. AP49

    Since when does being heterosexual make one a good parent? If gay or lesbians want to marry each other and raise kids, they can't do any worse than a good portion of the heterosexual "parents" out there, and that includes the ones who practice a religion.

    March 27, 2013 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  23. jt13

    "What about the 1st Amendment right to the pursuit of happiness?"

    _________________
    Wow, really? You might want to actually read the constitution if you think it enumerates a right to the pursuit of happiness.

    March 27, 2013 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  24. snowdog

    Support traditional marriage created by God. Amen!!!!!

    March 27, 2013 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  25. rien

    If we are going to use the Bible in support of marriage then lets not forget the rest of the bible that clearly okays slavery is okay. Should we reverse rights of blacks, latins and asians? Or better yet, that precious Bible says that women are second to men and should NEVER have authority over them because it was Eve who sinned first and in turn deceived Adam. So then do we take away womens' rights and remove every woman in office, teaching, working in public service and the like? Remember the Bible says! Give me a flipping break people. This is 2013 not 1816. My religion and or faith says its okay for same sex marriage. If our constition says there is a separation of church and state then why is your religion effecting law and not mine? Thats the whole reasoning for separation of church and state. If we don't want the GLBT Community to have the ability to get married (which is a religious ceremony) then lets take away the rights of everyone and disolve marriage all together and we can all just live together. Choose your battles people!

    March 27, 2013 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
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