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On Tuesday and Wednesday, it was pretty much impossible to miss: a sea of red equal signs where your Facebook friends' faces used to be. Organized by the Human Right Campaign, the social media blitz for marriage equality seems to have worked — whether inspiring curiosity, satire, or hand-wringing, everyone was talking about it. Which meant that people were talking about gay marriage, too. The campaign was so effective, in fact, that Facebook engineers decided to map the portions of the United States, county by county, where users were most likely to change their avatar:

(The darker the color, the more citizens of the county changed their pictures on March 26, when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on behalf of Hollingsworth v. Perry, which concerns California's Proposition 8.)

Facebook found that the most support was concentrated in educated enclaves, like Ann Arbor, Michigan:

Many of the top 25 counties that showed the greatest support for HRC's campaign were home to college towns, including Orange (University of North Carolina), Durham (Duke University), Monroe (Indiana University), Johnson (University of Iowa), Athens (Ohio University), Dane (University of Wisconsin), Boulder (University of Colorado), and Travis (University of Texas at Austin).

Of course, no avatar, in whatever quantity, can somehow inaugurate marriage equality. But the distribution of support, as seen in the map above, indicates that struggle for gay rights is far from over.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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