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Can gay marriage debate on Facebook affect change?

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Gay marriage has taken the national spotlight the past few days as the Supreme Court weighs in on its constitutional value. From picketing with posters, to posting a profile picture, the debate on gay marriage has gone online. But as the face of protesting changes, can it actually affect change?

Whether it was liked, posted, or profiled, in a matter of days, the light pink equal sign on a bright red background has become a national symbol for equal marriage rights.

"I think it is a way for people to have some sort of civic engagement that they wouldn't have in the past," said Dr. Kris Drumheller, Associate Professor of Communications at West Texas A&M University.

"It's definitely a protest," added WTAMU Teel Bivins Professor of Political Science, Dr. David Rausch. "You can use any kind of method you can, gathering, boycotting, it's still a protest."

But despite it's rapid growth, this protest might have hit a wall when it comes to political change.

"It does have the pitfall of not, when we talk about social movements, not really becoming a social movement," said Dr. Drumheller. "Because you aren't actively engaged, you're not going anywhere."

"The protesting and things, it's interesting and it gets great media attention and if you're fundraising, it'll be a great fundraising device," continued Dr. Rausch. "But in terms of swaying the court either way, probably not."

That kind of judicial influence requires a more complicated process. But even still, educators feel all protests are still good for another kind of change.

"It is a way to form that community and form that support and pictorially I think we're all image driven," said Dr. Drumheller.

Change that starts with the public.

"It get's them involved," said Rausch. "It gives them an outlet."

"Seeing all that red shows that unity," said Drumheller. "And I think that people are liking to see that."

Dr. Rausch also said any kind of protest, whether in person or online, is good for another thing: encouraging people to vote. That way when election time comes, their vote can make a difference.

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