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May 27, 2017

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Mass wedding at Grammys sees 33 couples tie the knot

LOS ANGELES -- The music industry's top night turned into the big day for 33 couples on Sunday as Madonna and other stars led a mass wedding at the Grammys in a celebration of gay marriage.

The couples — some same-sex, some opposite-sex and diverse in race and appearance — exchanged rings before the Grammys stage at Los Angeles' Staples Center, which was momentarily transformed into a brightly lit church with a gospel choir.

The couples' wedding serenade was "Same Love," performed by hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

The Grammy-nominated song has been embraced by marriage equality campaigners as momentum builds in a growing number of countries and U.S. states to allow same-sex partners to tie the knot.

Macklemore and Lewis, who racked up four Grammys including the prize for best new artist, were joined halfway through their song by one of the gay community's most enduring icons — Madonna.

Sporting a white suit and cowboy hat, Madonna sang the high-energy chorus of her 1986 song "Open Your Heart."

The marriages were made official by Queen Latifah, who is authorized to perform weddings in California.

"When we say music has the power to bring people together at the Grammys, we mean it," a visibly moved Queen Latifah told the audience.

"Tonight, we celebrate the commitment to love by all of these beautiful couples," she said. "We are gathered together here to celebrate love and harmony in every key and every color."

French electro duo Daft Punk, who won record of the year, praised the wedding as "fantastic" in a message read by their songwriter. Daft Punk, who wear helmets as part of a robot motif, rarely speak in public.

"As elegant and as classy as the Grammy has ever been, is the moment when we ... saw all those wonderful marriages and that same love," said Paul Williams, sharing a "message from the robots" who stood next to him in costume as they accepted the award.

"It was the height of fairness and love and the power of love for all people, at any time, in any combination," he said.

The New York Times, which reported on the mass wedding shortly before the ceremony, said that the Grammys' producer, Ken Ehrlich, approached Macklemore and Lewis about the idea after learning that the duo's concerts have generated on-stage marriage proposals.

A casting agency recruited couples, initially telling them only that the wedding would take place on live television and insisting that they sign confidentiality agreements so that they would not even tell their families, the newspaper said.

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