It was just an equals sign. But during recent legislative procedures around the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), that little icon repainted Facebook as a bright red rallying cry for civil rights. For the Human Rights Campaign, it was a social coup. Now, two designers want to double down on the idea. Equality Sans, by Caprice Yu and Steve Peck, is a free-to-use typeface to show your support for marriage equality.
"With Equality Sans, the message is in the medium," the team writes. "An act as ubiquitous as typing on your computer can have a deeper meaning."
It’s a beautiful thought, that with every email we send or status update we make, we could be pounding away at the keys for the sake of justice. But is the design too overt? Even when used as most likely intended—posters and other large scale media—is there too much red? Are there too many equals signs?
"We loved that the equal signs were so graphic and bold. It’s overt, but carries a lot of weight," the team explains. "The thinking was that the idea of equality supersedes the message, no matter what the literal message is."
In other words, you’re not necessarily supposed to immediately make out the thin pattern of letters hidden within each piece of type (which, incidentally, were mostly constructed with basic shapes like circles, squares and triangles to simplify their presentation). You’re supposed to be struck, again and again, by that equals sign—the core symbol of the movement, originally developed by Stone Yamashita.
As of now, the typeface is free to use and download in vector format. The team is looking for volunteers to help them convert it to a more ubiquitous TrueType or OpenType font file.