Hip-Hop diva Queen Latifah officiated the on-stage marriages of 34 couples from all walks of lifeâ€”some gay, straight, young, old, interracialâ€”during the 56th annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday night.
â€śIt is my distinct honor to now ask our participants to exchange rings,â€ť Queen Latifah said to the couples who were lined up in aisles. â€śDo you each declare that you take each other as spouses?â€ť At which point she then shouted, â€śI now pronounce you a married couple,â€ť as Madonna emerged and sang the newlyweds a special verse from her song â€śOpen Your Heart.â€ť
The landmark nuptials took place during a medley of the rap duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewisâ€™s breakout hit â€śSame Love.â€ť Lewisâ€™s sister Laura and her fiancĂ© 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.
â€śI 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,â€ť 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 â€ślesbian.â€ť
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, â€śWe donâ€™t need to stoop to the level of trying to find gimmicks and sensationalistic approaches to what we do.â€ť
The Grammy-nominated song â€śSame Loveâ€ť is the fourth single from Macklemore and Lewisâ€™s 2012 studio albumÂ 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.