Why the Grammys’ “Macklemore Weddings” Were a Good Thing

Why the Grammys’ “Macklemore Weddings” Were a Good Thing January 29, 2014

Lots of folks have been chattering about the mass wedding that took place in the middle of Macklemore’s “Same Love” performance at the Grammys this past week. The lighting-quick ceremony included dozens of couples, both same-sex and opposite sex, presided over by none other than music and film star Queen Latifah. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ song, which deconstructs the biases around same-sex couples and promotes an openness to marriage equality, went viral this past year, particularly as the Youtube video that accompanies the song was shared more than 100 million times.

Yes, more attention was afforded to the performers than to the couples getting married. Yes, it felt rushed. Yes, I was disappointed when two men who had just exchanged vows leaned in to kiss each other, only to have the camera cut away.

But despite how much better it could have been, I fundamentally disagree with those who claim the whole ceremony, brief and Hollywood-ish as it was, symbolized a sad day for marriage as an institution, even if you support marriage equality.

I agree it’s not how I’d want to get married, and that it was a little bit cheesy, superficial and exploitive. But my friend, Marnie, who is both a minister and a member of the LGBTQ community, offered this in response to criticisms of the event by some straight allies:

So, tell me what wedding, on some level at some point is NOT superficial (can you say THOUSANDS of dollars spent on food, plates that matches the attendant’s clothes, flowers, cakes, candies, rehearsal dinners, a fancy ring, I could go on but I’ll stop), impersonal (hundreds of guests, really??? Or Elvis-in-a-drive-through) and mutually exploitative (Ok, so it’s mostly women that get exploited in the hetero marriage). but how’s this? How about after DECADES of being submitted to hetero-as-normal (“every kiss beings with “K” as a start — seen any queer people in those commercials?) I felt good about it, so Amy, you feel good about it too. When *everyone* has the privilege of having their marriages recognized publicly, then perhaps we can talk about how demeaning and emotionally manipulative such displays as the Grammy weddings are. until that time, I’ll take the positive affirmation of my life anywhere I can find it. If the church ain’t gonna step up and step out, then God Bless the Grammys for doing it.

Far from trivializing marriage, this ceremony actually was, I’d argue, a sacred act in itself. Yes, it could have been done differently – arguably better – but what matters most is it happened. For millions of people, it’s likely the first time they’ve seen anything other that stereotypes or caricatures of gay couples, especially in the context of marriage. It got people talking, which is huge, and perhaps more important, it helps to normalize an expression of mature, committed love in a culture that still wrestles with the difference between good/bad and typical/atypical.

Something is not inherently bad simply because it’s unfamiliar. But history proves that, as something becomes a more common encounter (like seeing regular same sex couples getting married, buying groceries, mowing the lawn or doing their taxes) the less we resort to the natural reflex to label it as somehow bad, dangerous or threatening to how we see the world.

For this, I’m grateful to Hollywood, to Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis, to Queen Latifah and to the couples who used their commitment to one another to advance a cause who time has more than arrived.

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  • Amen. It should of been what ended the telecast instead of the Queen of the Stone age, old rocker mash-up. I liked that but it felt like a downer after the wedding and I’m sorry but Madonna singing through her nose some weird nasal sound was awful and almost ruined the whole thing. She should not of been involved in my opinion.

    • AshleyQuinn

      Guess how many gay men would have loved to have Madonna sing at their wedding? I grant you it was weird (what was up with the cane?), but Madonna has both been challenging and pushing religious imagery in pop music, and a queer icon for long enough that her presence was warranted.

    • UWIR

      I don’t mean to be rude, but I think that you should be aware that “should not of” is not a valid English phrase.

  • “If the church ain’t gonna step up and step out, then God Bless the Grammys for doing it.”

    That was my thought as I watched. Thanks for this post. Maybe the mass wedding was not perfect, but thought it was powerful to see the stage-turned-sanctuary. Perhaps unorthadox in the method, but the Grammy’s brought the church to the wedding. God will find a way.

  • AshleyQuinn

    It made me cry. Granted I was emotionally wasted after 12 hours of not getting my dishwasher installed (I got it done the next night). And I loved Marnie’s responce as well.

  • Sandbur

    I remember that decades ago anything other than a pair of twin beds was not allowed in a TV bedroom and neither were toilets in a bathroom. Look at some of the old “I Love Lucy” etc. shows.

  • UWIR

    “every kiss beings[sic] with “K” as a start”

    Wow, I just got that. I feel silly. I guess I was too distracted by the whole “The best way to get women to give you physical affection is to give them bright shiny rocks” part to pay attention to the wordplay.

    “seen any queer people in those commercials?”

    For that matter, seen a woman give jewelry to a man in those commercials? A same-sex couple would play havoc with the “Man bribes woman for sex” subtext that pervades the commercials.

  • Frank

    No marriages were actually performed at the Grammys.

  • SayinReagan

    This blog is full of heresy. If you can’t understand Romans 1, its not a theological problem, you probably just have a reading problem.

    • Christian Piatt

      Umm…did you read the title of the blog? And PS, personal insults not allowed here. Any more and you’ll be blocked.

      • TedCruzsEgo

        Yea after you called duck dynasty rednecks and bigots. That is glaringly hypocritical. I can’t think of anything more sacrilegious that a Christian that thinks God is okay with homosexuality.