This week at the 56th Grammy Awards, Macklemore and Lewis took home four trophies. This speaks volumes about the duo, whose performance of the popular song ‘Same Love’ marked a turning point in the evening towards a more political message. During their performance Madonna joined in as Queen Latifah officiated a wedding of 33 same-sex and heterosexual couples of all ages. The large roomful of onlookers seemed to have nothing but acceptance and support for the newlyweds, who gave up private ceremonies with friends and family for the very public, mass nuptials. The happy couples didn’t seem to mind the communal aspect of the proceedings, being honored to help advance the cause of same-sex marriage. They probably didn’t mind the opportunity to mix with stars like Queen Latifah, Katy Perry, Paul McCartney and others, too.
Los Angeles’s Staples Center was decorated with more flowers than usual for the special occasion, during which many celebrities were visibly moved – Keith Urban cried. Renowned songwriter Paul Williams, while accepting Best Album for Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories,” said the wedding illustrated: “the power of love for all people.” Sir Paul McCartney put his hand on his heart – and Katy Perry caught a bouquet.
The song ‘Same Love’ might well do as much for gay rights as all the Pride Parades across the world, reaching millions of young people of all races, religions and beliefs. Superficially, it’s your typical hip-hop number while somewhat atypically criticizing hip-hop for its common hate language against gay people. The song is ridiculously catchy, and the accompanying melodic intervals sung by Mary Lambert are wistful and lovely. Listening to such lyrics, which are listened and sung along to by so many others, may well serve to infiltrate fans’ belief-systems far better than any protest or parade could. Add to that the statement inherent in the gay marriage ceremony held by the Grammy Committee on Sunday night, and the end result is a powerful one. This is perhaps the closest “the establishment” has come to showing its full-fledged support for same-sex marriage: Although legal in some states, the right has been given and then repealed in others or has been just flat out refused – in an astonishing 30 U.S. states same-sex marriage is illegal. 16 states recognize in-state same-sex marriage, but only one, Oregon, recognizes marriages performed outside the state.
So who were the five most spirited, most talked-about couples to take the stage while fighting for their rights and getting married in front of the world this week? Let’s take a look at five couples who made history with their Grammy marriage on the 26th of January 2014.
5. Sean Bishop & Taylor Knuth
Sean Bishop and Taylor Knuth met at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. They were engaged for a year prior to this week’s wedding ceremony. A recording of Bishop’s proposal is on Knuth’s YouTube page. It shows Sean singing an original song while family and friends hold up letters spelling: “Will you marry me?” Although they are planning a ceremony and reception for their loved ones later this year, they were very excited and emotional to have been married first at the Grammy Awards, where, as Knuth mentions, they got to stand up in front of some of their role models. He and his new husband are both pursuing careers in musical theater. “These are people we looked up to our whole life.” Bishop spoke about a different aspect of the occasion. He described being filled with emotion as he and his then fiancé walked into the Center. “It was bigger than I could ever imagine, and so overwhelming. When we got out there and there were all those people, Taylor starting crying. Then I started crying.” The highlight just may have been when Katy Perry hugged Bishop and wished the couple well.
4. Spencer Reeser-Stout & Dustin Reeser-Stout
This Salt Lake City couple had some screen fame prior to getting married in front of millions during Sunday night’s Grammy Awards. Spencer Stout proposed to his then boyfriend, Dustin Reeser, with a flash mob in Home Depot’s lumber aisle, and the video went viral, with 11.3 million views since its posting and an appearance by the couple last fall on the Ellen show. A few months ago a casting agent called the couple while they were scouting venues in California for a civil wedding. They were asked if they would like to get married on live TV, and when they found out that the live TV was the Grammys, Stout and Reeser accepted the invitation. They expected the very public wedding to be a challenge to the intimacy of their moment and were prepared for that. As Spencer Reeser-Stout said: “We promised each other we would make sure we focused on us, just making it about us. I was looking at Dustin the entire [wedding]. Even though it was public, it was still very special and intimate.”
3. Jason Miller & Yawar Charlie
This attractive couple has been together for many years. They encountered not only the difficulties facing same-sex couples, but also those facing a couple in an interracial relationship. Yawar explained: “Jason and I are a mixed-race couple. My family is Pakistani and Jason is from Pennsylvania. We’re very much a non-traditional couple…This was an opportunity to show the different faces of America and gay America.” Miller stated that it was a surreal experience having Queen Latifah officiate and having Macklemore and Lewis perform along with Madonna. Although he says the experience left them speechless, Yawar had more to add about being so close to fame: “We walk past Ringo Starr. He gives Jason a high five. He gives me a high five, then Paul McCartney sticks out his hand and said, ‘Congratulations,’ and I stuck out my hand, and for some reason I didn’t let go for a second. Then he grabbed Jason’s hand and the three of us were holding hands, and I was like, ‘OMG!’ ” Jason laughed along with his new husband and added: “You accosted Paul McCartney!”
2. Christine & Patricia Garcia
These brides had a commitment ceremony a year-and-a-half ago, but when they heard they had the chance to officially wed with none other than Queen Latifah solemnising their vows, it was too much to pass up. The newlyweds did not meet Madonna, but said that Queen Latifah was outspoken about how great she thinks the whole thing was. According to Christine, Queen Latifah was backstage “yelling, ‘This is love! This is the way it’s supposed to be!’ ” The Garcias had more than one reason to celebrate: Patricia is in full remission after fighting a rare form of cancer. She said she hopes that seeing the wedding on TV might open the minds of people currently closed to the idea of same-sex marriage.
1. Quincy and Deondray Gossfield
Deondray Gosset and Quincy Fields met in 1996, before either had come out to their friends and families. They fell in love making films together. Huffington Post Live managed to get an interview with the two, now the Gossfields, the day after their very public wedding. Deondray and Quincy were still in their tuxedo shirts and vests from the night before. When asked how they’d gotten into the ceremony, Deondray answered that “the casting firm had put out a wide net” and that through a friend of a friend at the casting firm, they became a part of the big night. They had to keep it a secret, even from their closest family members, and mentioned how they devised ways to make sure their loved ones watched the Grammys without giving things away. Backstage afterwards, one of the grooms described, all the couples signed legal documents with a state official. The most fun bit, though, is that Deondray locked eyes with Katy Perry who the couple was standing quite close to, and Perry was crying. Deondray tried (and failed!) not to cry. In a chain reaction, Quincy saw his groom’s face crumpling and looked away so he wouldn’t cry, and then made eye contact with Paul McCartney. The latter placed his hand on his heart and nodded at Quincy. Of course both grooms ended up crying, “…which is the screengrab that everybody is posting all over the Internet: #uglycry,” says Quincy. The couple says that the room was filled with so much love they could feel it, with all of the celebrities looking at them and smiling, which just goes to show: Most of us love a good wedding, no matter who’s getting married.