Murray Lipp doesn’t have the power of President Barack Obama, the swagger of Brad Pitt, or the name recognition of Madonna, but he’s arguably on the short list of social influencers leading the march toward marriage equality in America.
Lipp, 36, created the Facebook group Gay Marriage USA (GMUSA), the social-networking site’s most-liked page on the subject. He leads his rainbow-hued 280,000-strong mass with a breathlessly updated stream of marriage announcements, hot topics, and call-to-action posts.
“I really put my passion out there for all to see and I am emotionally invested in the cause/issue,” Lipp wrote to the Daily Dot. “There is no mystery how I feel about things and that is made clear in my editorial comments.”
The page doesn’t exist as a “feel good project” to improve his influence, Lipp said, quite the contrary.
“In reality, a lot of people in the [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual] world are not connected with traditional LGBT advocacy organizations and in that regard they are sometimes ‘out of the loop’ about what is happening on a day to day basis in regards to the fight for equality,” said Lipp, a social worker who received his master’s degree from New York University in 2008.
GMUSA fills that niche. The freedom of being independent from a nonprofit organization, like GLAAD, also allows greater editorial flexibility.
“I am free to post and promote material from a broad range of organizations and sources and can thereby disseminate a lot of information to a wide audience on a regular basis. Mostly I stay up to date on current news and issues and tap into those issues and events that I think people will most want to engage with,” he said, adding that pictures of marriage couples perform well. “People really enjoy seeing those images.”
With a tone that’s equally conversational and provocative, GMUSA provides a safe environment for allies and gay people to discuss the oft-controversial topic. Since the group’s creation in July 2011, Lipp has tallied up thousands of conversations, ranging from proactive to the mundane. Notably, Lipp doesn’t outright ban members who are openly opposed to gay marriage, only those who use homophobic comments.
“Occasionally,” Lipp said, “it’s constructive to allow people who don’t support equality to share their point of view just so we can see their thought patterns and challenge the flaws in their thinking.”
Prior to Lipp tackling the issue at a national level, he started with Gay Marriage for New York, a Facebook group that according to him, was highly influential in legalizing same-sex marriage in the state in July 2011.
The success of that page—and the support from his fans—inspired him to create GMUSA shortly after New York’s decision, expanding his horizons to approach the issue from a national perspective. While it’s difficult to measure the impact of the GMUSA on the results, Lipp took obvious pride in the Nov. 6 ballot measures in Maine, Maryland, and Washington that helped legalize gay marriage in those states, calling it a “key turning point” for LGBT equality.
“My experience with that page showed me how important it is to provide people with an online meeting point to share ideas and build enthusiasm about marriage equality activism,” said Lipp.
“The tired, outdated and dishonest anti-equality campaigns pushed by our opponents just don’t work anymore, and I think their message of discrimination will become even more and more unpalatable as time goes on. We now have both time and history on our side.”
And 280,000 Facebook fans.
Photo via ChangePress/YouTube