Red equal signs may be appearing in your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. streams lately. You might even be taking part in it. But what does it all mean?
The red background with a pink equal sign stands for marriage equality, and it has gone viral with people changing their profile pictures to variations of the image or posting it to their profiles.
The red equal sign overtaking is happening now because of the United State Supreme Court hearing the case Hollingsworth v. Perry, which will determine whether California’s Proposition 8 law is constitutional. Proposition 8 states that marriage is solely between a man and a woman. If the law is deemed unconstitutional, a victory will be achieved for those in favor of marriage equality, the idea that marriage can be between any two people, regardless of their gender.
The Supreme Court will also hear the case United States v. Windsor which will determine if the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is constitutional. DOMA was enacted in 1996 and restricts federal benefits and inter-state recognition of marriage to marriages solely between men and women.
Prior to the start of the cases, the Human Rights Campaign, an organization advocating LGBT rights, used the symbol of a yellow equal sign on a blue background. It changed its symbol to the red equal sign yesterday to draw greater attention to the importance of the cases and this period in time for marriage equality.
The Human Rights Campaign has a large following on social media sites, and it was able to get thousands of people to share its original red equal sign post. From there, the message spread. Celebrities posted the sign on their pages. President Barack Obama linked to a picture of the red equal sign on his official Twitter account.
“Every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law. #MarriageEquality,” he tweeted.
To combat those using the red equal sign to campaign for marriage equality via social media, some people who do not support the movement have posted red signs with a man and a woman on them, making the statement that the old view of marriage is the one they support.
Some speculate that the people posting red equal signs for marriage equality on social media sites are in the minority, in terms of national political opinion. However, most social media users have been proven to be younger, which may shape the way this issue is handled in the future.