Queen Latifah to officiate mass gay (and straight) wedding ceremony at Grammy Awards tonight

The New York Times reports today that Queen Latifah will officiate the weddings of 34 gay and straight couples as part of the Grammy Awards tonight.  The ceremony will be part of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s performance, along with Mary Lambert and Madonna, of their Grammy-nominated marriage equality anthem “Same Love.”

Queen Latifah (left), Mary Lambert, Ryan Lewis and Macklemore at the 2013 VMAs

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Grammy officials insist that the ceremony is “not a stunt” and that much time and consideration was put into the proper staging of the event. The New York Times reports that show producer Ken Erhlich (whose daughter is gay and originally told him about the gay marriage proposals that happen at Macklemore concerts) first discussed the idea with the band last year:

The idea for the weddings originated last fall when Mr. Ehrlich sat down with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis over a fried-chicken lunch to brainstorm ideas for a possible performance. Knowing that their concerts have occasionally featured onstage marriage proposals, Mr. Ehrlich suggested taking it a step further with a full wedding.

The band was into it, so a casting agency was hired to find the couples, who at first were told only that the ceremony would take place on live television. The couples each signed confidentiality agreements — promising not to tell even their families. The involvement of the Grammys was revealed only in the last couple of weeks…

At a wedding rehearsal on Saturday afternoon here at the Staples Center, the couples marched up and down the aisles several times as producers tested lighting and music cues. As the song’s warm piano chords filled the arena and the couples held hands in place, hardened entertainment executives and crew members teared up.

What do you think of this news? Does the ceremony sensationalize the issue of marriage equality, or does it have the potential to raise awareness and enlighten those who might be opposed? Discuss!

The 56th Annual Grammy Awards air tonight at 8pm on CBS. AfterEllen will be livetweeting the event (#GRAMMYS), so come join us on Twitter!

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