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.