Co.Design

A Font For Supporters Of Marriage Equality

After the Human Rights Campaign’s coup on Facebook, a team of designers sets to expand the message of marriage equality with a full typeface.

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.

Download it here.

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6 Comments

  • MichaelSmythe

    For those puzzled about the reference to New Zealand - we just passed a Marriage Equality bill here. This is a link to a final reading speech from a conservative politician representing a well to do electorate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... 

  • MichaelSmythe

    A good cause - we are lovin' it here in New Zealand - but the font confuses equality with sameness. Equality is about appreciating diversity - so why force every letter into the same box and over-stamp it with the same symbol? The plot is lost!

  • Michael Senkow

    Good concept, but ah...sorry guys, it looks ugly. Big props for the action and goal but equality symbols shouldn't be a font?...

  • Malone

    Agree with Sabrtooth. This is a bit over the top. And not a very attractive, nor legible, font.

  • Sabrtooth

    Albeit an admirable cause, I think everyone has already moved past this momentary fad of applying equal signs to everything -- not to say we're past the cause itself. As designers, we should really try to create that which endures, not follow the latest fads.

    Although, I do have some new Hands Across America vector art if anyone is interested.

  • Tim Geoghegan

    It's not a fad. It's a cause. And if people have 'moved past' it, then it makes sense to remind them of it, no? That's the point you seem to have missed. The other point that might have have been missed by not reading the article is that the font is meant to let the red equal symbol supercede the text. The font IS the point. So using this font MAKES the point. 

    Oftentimes, a very simple idea is too complicated for the very simple among us.

    If you want a legible text, there thousands of other options to suit you that were designed for textbooks and headlines and not statements in themselves.

    Designers should only 'creates that which endures' you say? Maybe that's true for a monument. But not all designs are intended to be monuments. Some are intended to be statements. I could go into design theory for you, and the history of design and call out endless examples - but it's your responsibility to go to school and not our responsibility to educate you beyond your myopic definition of the purpose of 'design.'

    BTW, 'SABRTOOTH', one of the best parts about art school, and being a professional in the design industry, is the ability to honestly critique work based on its merit and then stand behind it. There's no offense to it, as critiquing by fellow pros is welcome and it's the way work becomes better.
    One of the worst parts about the internet though, is anonymous critiquing. Because instead of professional, smart critiques that may provoke thought, anonymity allows for self-righteousness and annoying wisecracks. Basically, it gives people like you a forum to come and dump your negative cynicism. 

    If you believe everything you say, 'SABRTOOTH, then just have the guts to stand behind it. Don't be afraid to post your name. We're all professionals, right? At least, we're supposed to be.