The Red Marriage Equality Sign on Your Facebook Is Completely Useless
It’s a big week in the fight for “marriage equality,” which is what most gay activists want us to call gay marriage. Today the Supreme Court heard arguments for and against Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that struck down the state’s law to allow Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi the right to marry each other just as Britney Spears got hitched to some guy in a drunken haze one night so many years ago. Tomorrow the Court will hear arguments about the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 federal law signed by Bill Clinton that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Right now gay activism needs all the help it can get. But do you know what’s not helping? Changing your Facebook profile picture to a silly red and pink equal sign.
In more sad news for gay Americans waiting to have all the rights that go along with marriage and not just the ridiculously ornate parties and rituals, it looks like the court won’t issue a sweeping ruling to allow gay marriage in all 50 states. That means gay men and lesbians who call this country home will continue to be second-class citizens. Sorry to break it to everyone, but changing your little avatar isn’t doing anything to change that.
Yes, the show of support is heartwarming. It’s nice to see so many people who want their gay friends to be spoiled brides just like all their straight friends, but you’re not doing anything. This is just another form of passive activism that isn’t advancing the cause. Do you know what would be helpful? Actually picking up a sign, heading down to the Supreme Court, and joining the throngs of protesters. Do you know what would be useful? Instead of just downloading an image and clicking a few buttons, going to the website of a gay rights organization (or any gay organization for that matter) and giving them some money so they can fight for gay civil rights on your behalf. Do you know what would really matter? If you had done this back when Prop 8 was being voted on and actively lobbied everyone you know in California to vote the right way so this thing didn’t have to go to the Supreme Court in the first place.
Basically, it’s the equivalent of wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day (which is only useful in identifying which drunks to avoid on the sidewalk). And this is not the right time or place for the show of support. There are only nine people, the Supreme Court Justices, who matter today or tomorrow, and their lifetime appointments mean that they’re above being prejudiced by the masses. They’re probably not even allowed on Facebook. Why don’t you hold your burst of activity for something that really matters, when the public actually has some say in what happens?