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The Symbolic Progression of Marriage Equality

March 26th, 2013

While the Supreme Court debates today and tomorrow on two cases related to gay marriage, more and more people on Facebook and other social networks are adopting a pink and red symbol of equality to show their support for marriage equality and civil rights protection. These symbolic badges all display the ‘=’ symbol, but as more of them started showing up in my Facebook feed, I was drawn to the small differences between these simple statements of support.

Slight differences abound in this simple flag.

Many the images seemed to be copied and recopied from other postings as the notion of symbolic support went viral across social networks, resulting in exaggerated pixillation as the images got re-optimized by various compression algorithms. However, some of these symbols seemed to be custom-made, with alternate sizing, framing, and weight of the symbol. The reds used varied from #ca0000 to #cb0101 and #cb1c01 — pretty close — and the the pinks hovered around #e88d8c, #e88c8d, #e98d8e, #eb8d8d, and #e28d8a, though some of these color variations surely came from compression distortion.

Perhaps it’s largely an academic exercise, but it is interesting to study the ways images and symbols get distorted and altered as they are adopted and interpreted by the masses. It reminds me a bit of Sebastien Schmieg’s recursive image search projects, where he feeds an image into an image search engine and uses the result to start a new search. A narrative of unexpected relationships reveals itself as the images progress.

In any case, I hope the Supremes do the right thing this week and uphold the rights of all to have access to civil marriage benefits and responsibilities that literally have nothing to do with religious freedom or popular opinion. This is one progression whose arrival is long overdue.

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