By: Jarred Gammon
Follow on Twitter: @jarredtgammon

The Supreme Court’s monumental ruling in favor of same-sex marriage set off a flurry of social media and traditional media traction on both sides of the issue. This blog post specifically focuses on the lifespan of the hashtag #lovewins.

First, let me start by saying whoever developed the #lovewins hashtag is a genius. It succinctly summarizes the underlying theme of the Supreme Court’s ruling to allow for same-sex marriage, and it’s catchy! Love wins – simple, yet profound.

Let’s look at the reactions to the decision. On Instagram, #lovewins was used 1,643,507 times since the ruling! On Facebook, more than 26,000,000 people used the rainbow filter on their profile pictures. The overall reaction was largely positive, with major companies and celebrities taking to social media to express their support for the SCOTUS ruling and share in the joy of equality.

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Highlighting #lovewins on Twitter: June 26 – June 30

But for this blog I would like to focus on Twitter. In just five short days, this hashtag was used 11,410,390 times! With that kind of social media traction, there’s a lot of data available to give us some insight on how this issue unfolded online.

A hashtag is a useful tool to group conversation around a similar issue, and also a way to frame that particular issue. #lovewins is a hashtag that supports the SCOTUS decision, so therefore we can expect to see mostly positive framing and messaging around same-sex marriage. Although short-lived, we can see the lifespan of the hashtag and track how it exploded in popularity following the decision.

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The most retweeted tweets using #lovewins come from two of my faves, @POTUS and @taylorswift13. Twitter users with high authority (large amounts of followers and high tweet engagement) like T-Swift and President Obama play a large part in shaping the online discussion around an issue or event because their opinions carry so much weight.

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When we take a close look at the Word Cloud (most popular terms used with #lovewins) and Top Hashtags (most popular hashtags used in conjunction with #lovewins), we gain more insight as to how the issue was framed online. For example, the Word Cloud indicates that “equality” was the leading argument/theme for supporting same-sex marriage. Also, note how both Obama and T-Swift made their way into the cloud.

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We see the hashtag #twibbon, which is a platform that allows users to create their own microsite to help support a cause, brand, or organization. Many users “added a Twibbon” to help support the #lovewins campaign. Another interesting takeaway was that #pride was the second most popular hashtag instead of other hashtags related to marriage equality (also in the Top 10 was #pride2015). Many expressed their #pride to be part of the LGBT community, but #pride was also used in relation to the numerous pride parades in major cities across the country.

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Geographically, California was the most active state using #lovewins on Twitter, followed by New York, Texas, Florida, and Illinois. While these states are the most populated in the US, they also hosted some of the nation’s four largest pride parades in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Houston. Remembering that #pride was the second most popular hashtag, we can reasonably surmise that mentions of the #lovewins campaign spiked with major pride celebrations.

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Comparing social media data with public opinion can either reaffirm existing research, or identify new trends/disconnects in the data that are worth exploring. For example, nearly two-thirds of the total #lovewins Twitter discussion came from women, which is not surprising considering how most studies find that women support same-sex marriage at a higher rate than men – like this example from Pew. So in this instance, social media reaffirms public opinion.

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But while we celebrate a major victory here in the US, let us be reminded of the global crisis facing the LGBT community, where in many countries being gay is punishable by death. Here are a few reactions from Twitter users in other countries that demonstrate how lucky we are to live in the Land of the Free.

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So now that love has won in the US, let us shift our efforts to fight for basic human rights worldwide, because #gayisokay!

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