Oral arguments concerning the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the California same-sex marriage ban, and DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act declaring marriage between one man and one woman, were heard by the Supreme Court on March 26 and 27. In response, Facebook erupted in an ocean of red as users began a movement of support, changing their profile pictures to white equal signs over a square red background. These red squares were often accompanied with hashtags like #MarriageEqualityNow, #UnitedForMarriage, and #TimeForMarriage.
We at The Campanil believe that the mass change in profile pictures are a great symbol of solidarity for the marriage equality movement. In today’s society, social media is the main source of information for many people. From Facebook to Twitter to Tumblr to YouTube, people look to social media platforms as a way to pick up on trends like the “sea of red,” as it’s been dubbed in the blogosphere. Millions of people changing their profile pictures to squares of red makes a statement: A large portion of users on social media support marriage equality, and they’re doing it in an extremely visual way.
However, we also believe that the amount of time, funds, and resources being spent on the marriage equality movement is potentially problematic when the LGBTQ* community has a host of other issues they are concerned about as well, ones that are not receiving national attention. Some of these issues include suitable housing, adequate health care, and human rights for all LGBTQ* associated communities, particularly ones that are less visible in the media, like the trans* community.
Even if the LGBTQ* community is allowed access to legally-recognized unions, marriage is not the only answer to achieving equal rights for LGBTQ* individuals.
Some of us also feel that changing a Facebook profile picture to show support for marriage equality is the easy way out; more action should be taken in terms of showing support for the movement. This kind of activism has been titled “slactivism,” or slacker activism, and is a way for people to use social media to claim an activist role rather than physically venturing out into the world to make a change. For example, Facebook also turned to changing profile pictures during the Kony 2012 movement.
We at The Campanil believe that while such (in)action provides a type of movement in that it gives some voiceless individuals a chance to speak up, and has given rise to LGBTQ* movements such as “It Gets Better,” it is not vigorous enough action from supporters.