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Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Gay.com: Cause or Effect?

I first got a full sense for the depth of market demand, and the social momentum behind, the concept of allowing homosexuals to be legally married last Sunday when I found myself on the New York Times marriage announcements page. (This doesn't sound as tough as saying that I caught it on "NFL Countdown," but it's true.) Three of the marriages were gay marriages, all Manhattanites who had traveled to Canada to have the ceremony performed, two in Toronto, one in Ottawa.

Canada's high court only ruled in favor of legalizing gay marriage recently, and a subsequent legislative motion to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman was defeated only narrowly, with many members of the ruling Liberal Party voting in favor.

The momentum continues today south of the border. The vertical portal Gay.com is taking the opportunity today to announce reaching 2.5 million personals profiles on the same day that the highest court in Massachusetts ruled that gays have the right to marry under the state constitution.

Gays and lesbians have no political party, and social movements are getting harder to organize, it seems, especially with some activists in the gay community explicitly arguing against same in the folly of 1990's pomo politics. Enter the 'net. A vertical portal with a huge user base becomes, whether it wants to or not, a cohesive market force and a potentially potent influence in public affairs. We're here, we buy stuff, and we have email, or something to that effect.

Gay.com may be merely reflective of its population, and some might say that issuing press releases on the day of a historic legal decision is mere market opportunism. But one suspects that we'll be seeing more of this in the future: the quiet but firm influence of a large, relatively interconnected vertical portal "user base" in reminding decision-makers of their responsibilities to uphold constitutional principles and to think about the needs of all of their constituents.

It's been a fast start to the news week. Don't be surprised tomorrow if Rush Limbaugh comes out.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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