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Grammy Awards: live on-air mass gay marriages

entertainment Updated: Jan 27, 2014 10:22 IST

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Dozens of couples married on air during the live broadcast of the annual Grammy Awards as Macklemore & Ryan Lewis performed their nominated song Same Love, which has become an anthem in the campaign for legal gay marriage.

Queen Latifah officiated the nuptials, with pop diva Madonna performing the song with the hip hop duo and featured vocalist Mary Lambert.

Before the awards, Lewis said that the weddings, including 34 couples of various ages and races, some gay, some straight, "will be in our minds the ultimate statement of equality, that all the couples are entitled to the same exact thing," a New York Times report said.

"We're serious about this," the Times quoted Ken Ehrlich, the longtime producer of the Grammys, as saying. Ehrlich, noting that the segment reflected his own personal beliefs - he has a gay daughter - said, "I would not want to make a broad statement that it represents the views of the academy or the CBS television network."

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, Madonna embrace on stage after performing the song Same Love while Queen Latifa officiated over a mass wedding at the 56th Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on January 26, 2014. AFP Photo

Addressing the potential for controversy, Neil Portnow, the president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, had said "I expect that people with all kinds of opinions might voice them, and that's healthy," the Times said.

The idea for the segment originated last autumn when Ehrlich and the duo met to discuss a Grammys performance. Since the singers' concerts have occasionally featured onstage marriage proposals, Ehrlich suggested a wedding.

A casting company sought couples who were initially told only that the ceremony would take place on live television.

Macklemore (left) & Ryan Lewis win the award for Best New Artist at the 56th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California. (Reuters Photo)

The report also said that they learned of the Grammys' involvement only in recent weeks, and had to sign confidentiality agreements.

For Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, whose Same Love is up for song of the year, the event took on a personal note with the participation of Lewis's sister Laura, who will marry her boyfriend during the ceremony.

"A night that is already tremendous for me, for the music," the Times quoted him as saying, "but to have my sister get married and my family there watching it - that makes it a whole other level of amazing." The group is nominated for a total of seven Grammys.