Friday, June 26 was a busy day for me. I had a packed agenda as usual. I got up, spent some alone time writing, reading the Bible and connecting my mind and heart with the Divine. Then I went for a run and got ready for work. I had meetings until 5 pm, when I went to have dinner and spend time with two college friends and their families. I got home just as it drew dark—around 9 pm. My day had been so full that I didn’t check out social media all day. I missed the celebrations that broke out after the Supreme Court’s big decision on gay marriage.
A few minutes on Facebook quickly remedied the situation. I read about the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage across the US under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause. This part of the Constitution was enacted during the Civil War as a way to justify its unbelievable loss of life and encourage freed slaves to don the Union colors in the army. It was invoked nearly 100 years later when the High Court ruled that separate schools for Colored and White children were inherently unequal in the landmark Brown v. Board case. The justices couldn’t deny that all people were equal and due the same inalienable rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” (Thanks Mrs. Ferguson for making me memorize the Preamble to the Constitution in seventh grade social studies.)
I am happy about the Supreme Court’s decision, and wonder why it took so long for them to be able to hear a case that would allow such a verdict. I don’t believe in discrimination of any kind, and hate seeing people treated with less respect and dignity for any reason. But something about seeing all those rainbow profile photos unnerved. So, I had to ask myself why?
Are you against their efforts to show support for marriage equality? No
Does the visual overlay of the rainbow colors on top of lightened photos bother you? Not really
Did you see too many of the 26 million profile pics that had been changed? Perhaps (I do tend to hang around a lot of liberals)
As I reflected, this is what I realized: I was upset by how little effort people had to put in to demonstrate their commitment to a civil rights issue.
In the past, people were attacked by dogs, hosed down by fire hydrants, and jailed for their efforts to bring greater equality to all people. But in this case, Facebook did all the work for those 26 million. FB had its design department assemble an app that, when activated, could make any photo more transparent and overlay a rainbow-colored filter on top. So, anyone, anywhere, in a matter of seconds could convert a photo into a show of support for marriage equality. They didn’t have to take time out of their schedules to march, pull money out of their banks to donate or make any real sacrifice for the cause. Yet by changing their profiles, those 26 million could claim their place in the movement.
I am a supporter of gay rights, but I’m worried about our commitment to social justice. Changing public attitudes and policies about race, gender, class and sexual origination is more difficult than changing a FB profile pic. We also need to do more than click a button or retweet a 140-character message. I’m concerned that our contemporary society with its social media movements doesn’t understand this important fact and won’t have the fortitude of conviction to keep fighting the battles for justice and equality that have been waged in our nation for 300+ years—and will continue for many more ahead until equality is a reality for everyone. Who is ready for that long game that involves lots of work and sacrifice?
P.S. If I had changed my profile pic, it would have looked like this:
Crystal Moore began her wellness quest in 2003 after being diagnosed with lupus. Her quest has led her to embrace yoga, faith, exercise, healthy eating, and relationships. Share her journey.