The struggle for marriage equality in the United States has been a long time coming. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) enacted in 1996 prevented gay marriages, even those legal in their home states, from being recognized in other states and as well as from being recognized federally. For example, you could be legally married in California, but move to Tennessee and that marriage would not be recognized, and all of your legal rights as a spouse would be dissolved. DOMA blocked health insurance, pension protections, social security benefits, support and benefits for military spouses, and immigration protections for couples from different nations, among others.  Before 2015, it was up to individual states to rule on whether or not gay marriage was legal. Gay marriage was legal in 38 states plus Guam and the District of Columbia. In thee conservative states of the 38 there were restrictions on recognizing gay marriages.

On June 26, 2015, in a 5-4 vote the United States Supreme Court handed down the decision to make gay marriage legal in all 50 states of the US. They found the laws preventing gay marriage to be discriminatory and the justification for gay marraige, equality, to be a fair argument. Following this ruling, President Obama and the White House tweeted:

The #LoveWins hashtag began to trend immeditaley following President Obama and the White Houses’ tweets, and #LoveWins became a worldwide phenomena. Obviously, being the president of the US, Obama’s tweet and hashtag had the ability to instantly pentetrate the entire world given his several million followers, worldwide fame, and credability as the leader of the free world.  The hashtag along with rainbow colored imagery appeared all over social media sites, advertisements, and on US and forgein streets. Huge brands like Coca Cola even got in on the opportunity to take advantage of this historic moment and promote equality while selling their brand:

Data tracked from the day #LoveWins began to trend shows that at it’s peak the hashtag #LoveWins had 35,000 tweets sent per minute.  As of one day following the ruling, there were 6.2 million tweets related to the passing of the gay marriage ruling.

“To put that in context, 3.5 million tweets mentioning #Ferguson were sent out in less than one day following the jury decision on the Michael Brown case in November 2014. Following the attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, tweets with the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie reached 2.1 million about six hours after the attack.” – International Business Times

#LoveWins was indeed a widely shared and important hashtag to both those in the LGBT community and their allies.

As evidenced above, the hashtag #LoveWins had extreme reach and relevence, due in part to the person with which the hashtag originated, President Barack Obama. It also caught on so quickly because the issue of marriage equality was so important to millions of people all over the world. When a hashtag has credibility and represents an important issue to many, it can gain a lot of traction.


Politics 2.0

The way political information is distributed, the way a politician runs his or her campaign, and the way an election is won have all changed since the dawning of the internet.  While traditional outlets including televised press conferences and town halls were how people interested in politics heard about their potential candidates, now there are a plethora of ways for politicians to reach their constituets, and it is up to those politicians to decide the best way to do so.

Take former president Barack Obama and his 2008 campaign for the presidential seat.  It will go down in history books that Mr. Obama was the first president to win a political election by way of using the web, in addition to traditional, 1.0 methods.  Young voters under age 25 were instrumental in electing this leader, as nearly 70% of registered voted between the ages of 18-25 pulled the level for Obama in 2008.  This is in great part due to this ability to use the web as a tool that young people were literate, and even obsessed with.  The platforms he maintained included  Facebook, Twitter, the MyBarackObama website, Youtube, a blog, and buying online ads rather than only traditional TV and radio spots.

Below is a video used to promote the 2008 election of Barack Obama, it was distributed via Youtube and posted to President Obama’s Twitter and immediately went viral:

The web has also allowed for not only people interested in politics, but those not as involved to become aware of candidates and where they lie on issues important to them.  Rather than having to seek out traditional outlets, which only those with a keen interest in politics would do, the internet as a platform for distributing political information reached American citizen who would have never turned to C-SPAN on their television sets, or PBS on their radios.  In 2008, not only Obama’s message that resonated with youth, but also the ability to research at their finger tips via platforms they were comfortable with, like Twitter, and with just the click of a follow button, ensured Obama would reach more people then a electoral candidate ever had before.

This tweet following the 2012 re-eleciton of President Obama, was the most popular tweet ever at the time of its posting:

I can only imagine that today Obama’s 2008 election strategy is a case study used by people running for all types of office.  Donald Trump has become next politician to really get a handle on social media and the web 2.0 and use it to his advantage, along with traditional outlets.  In fact, Mr. Trump used Twitter pre-election as much as he uses it post-election.  Here is a tweet he posted just yesterday:

Web 2.0 had made Politics 2.0 a reality, and one that can be harnessed to reach the highest office in the land, if used correctly.