Three little letters reversed the meaning of a tweet from Texas State Senator Dan Patrick that came on the heals of a court decision striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
A federal judge on Wednesday ruled the Texas law “demeans the dignity” of same-sex couples “for no legitimate reason.” In an extensive 48-page decision, U.S. district judge Orlando Garcia stayed his ruling pending an appeal by state officials, meaning marriage practices in the state were not likely to change immediately.
Still, Patrick (or someone working for him) took to Twitter with a response that included the words, in all caps, MARRIAGE = ONE MAN & ONE MAN. His inadvertent endorsement of gay marriage was short-lived, soon replaced by one that more accurately reflects Patrick’s views -- ONE MAN & ONE WOMAN.
If any of his 11,300 Twitter followers were confused, he tweeted out this affirmation of his opposition.
The tweet quickly became a Twitter sensation, drawing derisive comments about whether the Patrick, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor who has been well known for his opposition to gay marriage, had changed his position.
And, with the all the attention to the Internet’s biggest typo of the day, he saw an opportunity for fundraising.
But the doubling down was not complete. Another tweet assigned blame to a media intern who Patrick now sought to replace.
The Internet is unforgiving. But the tweet that started it all will eventually be forgotten. Prospective voters were reminded by his #twittertypo post the senator neither forgets nor forgives.
Paul W. Taylor, Ph.D., is the editor-at-large of Governing magazine. He also serves as the chief content officer of e.Republic, Governing’s parent organization, as well as senior advisor to the Governing Institute. Prior to joining e.Republic, Taylor served as deputy Washington state CIO and chief of staff of the state Information Services Board (ISB). Dr. Taylor came to public service following decades of work in media, Internet start-ups and academia. He is also among a number of affiliated experts with the non-profit, non-partisan Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) in Washington, D.C.