Hip-Hop diva Queen Latifah officiated the on-stage marriages of 34 couples from all walks of life—some gay, straight, young, old, interracial—during the 56th annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday night.
“It is my distinct honor to now ask our participants to exchange rings,” Queen Latifah said to the couples who were lined up in aisles. “Do you each declare that you take each other as spouses?” At which point she then shouted, “I now pronounce you a married couple,” as Madonna emerged and sang the newlyweds a special verse from her song “Open Your Heart.”
The landmark nuptials took place during a medley of the rap duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s breakout hit “Same Love.” Lewis’s sister Laura and her fiancé Alex were among the couples to get married.
Queen Latifah was recently deputized by Los Angeles County to perform the weddings and will sign the marriage certificates for each couple.
“I had to be sworn in as an official. I’m not a minister. If you come see me before 12 o’clock tonight, I got your back. After that, you’ll have to take the regular route,” reportedly, she said back stage. Even though it was rumored that Queen Latifah was in a relationship with her personal trainer Jeanette Jenkins, she has never come out as a “lesbian.”
The producers behind the program Ken Ehrlich and Neil Portnow insisted the ceremony was not a show stunt. Portnow, who is the president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, told The New York Times, “We don’t need to stoop to the level of trying to find gimmicks and sensationalistic approaches to what we do.”
The Grammy-nominated song “Same Love” is the fourth single from Macklemore and Lewis’s 2012 studio album The Heist. It has become a national anthem for supporters of marriage equality.
To date, 16 states and Washington, D.C., have passed laws allowing marriage for same-sex couples. As a result of the Supreme Court’s June 2013 decision to strike down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), same-sex couples married in states that allow it are now entitled to federal benefits afforded to all married couples.