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The story behind the gay marriage symbol taking over Facebook
How a red square with a pink equal sign became the new icon for marriage equality
The Human Rights Campaign's flickr page reveals all the ways in which people have interpreted the marriage equality symbol.
The Human Rights Campaign's flickr page reveals all the ways in which people have interpreted the marriage equality symbol. Screen shot, Flickr/HRC
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ou've probably already seen it on Facebook or Twitter: Two parallel pink lines splashed on a red square background, appearing where your friends' selfies usually go. It's become the de facto logo of supporters of gay marriage as the Supreme Court considers the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8. And it ticks all the requisite checkboxes an effective symbol needs: It's simple, instantly recognizable, and, well, everywhere.

But where did it come from? Well, the logo was created by marketing director Anastasia Khoo of the Human Rights Campaign, a group that trumpets itself as "the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organization," and "envisions an America where LGBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights."

The pink and red meme blanketing social media is a derivative of the HRC's everyday logo — a yellow equal sign on a blue background. Why the new colors? As Khoo told the New Yorker, the organization "decided to tinge it red because it's the color of love."

HRC first posted the timely new symbol to its Facebook page Monday afternoon, where it managed to attract a few big-name net denizens, namely former Star Trek actor and gay marriage advocate George Takei (who has 3 million Facebook "likes" and over 600,000 Twitter followers). Things took off from there.

The symbol, unsurprisingly, has spawned more than a few meme-y offshoots. One includes two horizontal strips of bacon. (Everyone loves bacon, get it?) Another has famous person Paula Deen mounting the symbol like two sticks of her beloved butter. Yet another splices fangs between the two equal signs; says the HRC: "Vampire marriage lasts for all eternity."

You can take a look at a few more at the HRC's Flickr page.

Chris Gayomali is the science and technology editor for TheWeek.com. Sometimes he writes about other stuff. His work has also appeared in TIME, Men's JournalEsquire, and The Atlantic.

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