Warning! At the link there is a photo of two people displaying their affection for each other by kissing. If you are of the sort whose sexuality would be altered by viewing such images, then I would suggest not clicking on the link.
Okay, got that disclaimer out of the way.
Is this a sign of the changing times? Yesterday I linked a piece about how Esurance is now offering married discounts to same sex couples. Facebook has added an icon to indicate those, if they like, to be in a same sex marriage.
Is this indicative of a changing mood within the business community? Seeking to sell their wares to an emerging market and it's sympathetic supporters? Certainly we can all agree that the tide has changed when it comes to gay marriage, whereas 10 years ago it would have been unheard of. Now we have corporate America jumping on the bandwagon.
Jeremy Hooper was the first to use the new same-sex marriage icon Facebook rolled out on Sunday. The writer, activist and author of the new book "If It's A Choice…" updated his Timeline over the weekend with his June 2009 Connecticut marriage to healthcare CEO Andrew Shulman with a photo of the happy couple, and a two-groom, cake topper-style image.
Before Sunday, gay Facebook users who wanted to indicate their marital status on the social network were relegated to the bride-and-groom, cake topper-style icon. The new Facebook icon choices — two grooms or two brides — allow gay newlyweds "to see themselves in the choices they make, and that means a lot," Allison Palmer, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) spokesperson, told msnbc.com.
Hooper's Timeline update with the new icon was soon followed by that of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, who married Sean Eldridge on Saturday.
Facebook's new icons come two weeks after Apple updated its iPhone operating system with gay and lesbian emojis — texting and email emoticons — featuring same-sex couples and families. The support also extended to an unlikely corner of the Web last week, on Oreo’s Facebook page. The cookie company posted a six-layered, rainbow-hued Oreo cookie to Facebook and Twitter. Unlike the concept cookie however, the Facebook icons actually exist.
Palmer said the addition of the same-sex marriage icons is the latest in Facebook's support of the LGBT community. In February 2011, the social network added civil unions and domestic partnerships to relationship status options. In 2010 Facebook, GLAAD and other LGBT organizations created "Network of Support," the social network's initiative to combat cyberbullying and support LGBT teens. In June, Facebook received a GLAAD media award for its support of the LGBT community.
While gay marriage is now recognized everywhere on Facebook via the new same-sex cake topper icons, it's still only legal in nine of the United States, and even in those states, gay married couples don't receive the same tax benefits as heterosexual married couples. Still, the visibility offered on Facebook can help pave the way for more gay rights in the future, said GLAAD spokesperson Rich Ferraro.
"Facebook offers another platform where people can see same-sex couples are just as committed and loving as any couple," Ferraro told msnbc.com. "People can see photos of families and come to realize we deserve the same opportunities to love and take care of each other."
While the new Facebook cake-topper offerings "are just a small icon, young adults can see that they too can hopefully have that opportunity to love and be happy in their future."