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What's red and pink and seen all over?

That would be the square-box logo of Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT advocacy group in the United States. With the U.S. Supreme Court hearing arguments in key marriage rights cases this week, the HRC decided to change the colours of the striking logo it's had since 1995, making its blue background red and the bright yellow equal sign in the foreground pink.

Unveiled by the Washington-based group Monday afternoon, the logo has gone viral on social media, replacing profile pictures on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and elsewhere, while spawning all sorts of parodies, including one showing "friends" Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street posed against the red backdrop.

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The new colouring is the brainchild of Anastasia Khoo, director of marketing for HRC for the past 71/2 years. In an interview Wednesday with The Globe and Mail, Khoo said HRC, founded in 1980, "started planning weeks ago [for the Supreme Court hearings on same-sex marriage] and how we'd build the drumbeat about this moment because we knew it would be one of historic significance.

"But we also knew there'd be a lot of people who'd want to get involved and show their support. So when I was thinking about a way to do that, obviously social media came forward as a perfect platform … I wanted to do something simple, and easy for people to do, so it was decided to change the logo."

Khoo opted to blow out the blue background for red "because that's really the colour of love – and what we feel the [Supreme Court] cases are really about."

One of the first celebrity HRC supporters Khoo contacted was George Takei, Sulu in the original Star Trek TV series, who "enthusiastically changed" his profile picture and urged his four million Facebook followers to do the same. Later, he playfully turned the equal sign into the division sign to symbolize those opposed to marriage equality.

Khoo said her organization has been "really excited" by the way groups and individuals like Takei have worked up their own variations on her red-and-pink treatment. "For us, what we do is try to encourage people to have conversations … and really this is just an extension of that."

Could the logo usurp the famous rainbow flag that, since the late 1970s, has been the primary rallying emblem for the LGBT movement? "Time will tell," Khoo replied with a laugh. "There are a lot of symbols out there but one of the most exciting things we've seen is how people have made this their own – politicians, public figures, celebrities, corporations.

"When we see something like that, it both thrills us and heartens us because of what it says to that young person who feels isolated, alone, maybe bullied … that there's this vast community of support out there."

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