The mass wedding held at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday night has sparked controversy and been criticized by many as a political stunt to promote same-sex marriage.
The mass wedding involved 33 homosexual and heterosexual couples, and took place as Macklemore & Ryan Lewis performed a rendition of their pro-gay marriage anthem 'Same Love.' The segment, which has been criticized by many for being inappropriate for the music awards, also featured Madonna and Mary Lambert.
The mass wedding was presided over and officiated by Queen Latifah, who was deputized by Los Angeles County to legally conduct wedding ceremonies.
The couples exchanged rings as Queen Latifah said: "Music has the power to bring people together at the Grammy's. This song is a love song not for some of us but all of us!"
Latifah then officiated the marriages after introducing the couples: "It is my distinct honor to ask the participants to exchange rings. By the power vested in me by the state of California, I now pronounce you a married couple."
The mass marriage segment was kept under wraps until just days before the Grammys, with organizers seemingly under no illusions as to the controversy the pro-gay stunt would stir among some viewers.
The mass marriage news in fact did not surface until Lewis and Grammy Awards producer Ken Ehrlich revealed the plans to The New York Times on Sunday.
Ehrlich has a daughter who is gay and said that the marriage segment reflected his own personal beliefs: "But, I would not want to make a broad statement that it represents the views of the academy or the CBS television network."
Gay marriage is a hugely divisive issue across the United States, as well as many countries around the world, and many critics slamming the segment have said that it was clear Grammy Awards organizers - by including the segment - knew that they were making a political statement. Organizers, though, have continued to deny any such intention.
The couples who took part in the mass wedding ceremony were found by a casting agency, and upon agreeing to take part, were then forced to sign confidentiality agreements to keep the event a secret, even from their own families.
Macklemore & Lewis' 'Same Love' is widely known as a pro-gay marriage anthem, and has been used by gay activists in their push for a redefinition of marriage. The lyrics of the song push for a redefining of marriage, so that it would be between any two consenting adults, as opposed to what Christians believe is the biblical definition of marriage as created by God – the union between one man and one woman before God.
Macklemore's rap segment in the song states: "The right-wing conservatives think it's a decision/And you can be cured with some treatment and religion/Man-made rewiring of a predisposition. Playing God, aw nah here we go/America the brave still fears what we don't know/And God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten/But we paraphrase a book written 3500 years ago."
In the aftermath of the mass wedding, many fans took to Twitter to complain about the alleged hidden political agenda.
Another wrote: "I hate Macklemore's Same Love. It is so wrong about Christianity. It judges all Christians as hateful, and that is simply not the case."
One user tweeted: "Why can't the event just be about the music? So tired of political and social messages being infused into everything."
Another said, "I don't care if they are gay or straight this is wrong. Quit shoving your leftist agenda down my throat. Enough is enough."
Christian Gospel singer Natalie Grant has revealed that she left the Grammys early, and many have taken her early exit to mean she was protesting against the events.
The singer posted on her Facebook: "We left the Grammy's early. I've many thoughts about the show tonight, most of which are probably better left inside my head. But I'll say this: I've never been more honored to sing about Jesus and for Jesus. And I've never been more sure of the path I've chosen."
In the aftermath of her revelations, dozens of gay activists took to her social media page to attack her. However, hundreds of others have supported her stance, praising her for maintaining her morals and faith despite the liberal agenda being pushed at the Grammy Awards.
One FB user posted: "I didn't read any judgement in Natalie's status. She's stating her beliefs, why is it that when a Christian disagrees with something it's automatically assumed we're judging. Seems to me that y'all are the ones posing judgment... Natalie keep doing what you're doing and taking a stand for Jesus. Love your music."
Another user said, "I don't know about you but my bible says to put no evil thing before my eye. She was not judging anyone by leaving early. She was simply obeying her bible people."
Another commenter saids, "I would give you a hug, Natalie, just because of some of the comments listed here. I'm not sure why some people are following you when they clearly don't believe or follow Jesus. Keep listening to Him and loving others. That is the greatest commandment."
In response, the Gospel singer stated to her followers:
I've tried to read all of the comments on my previous post but I can't respond to them all. Most of you have always been so supportive and encouraging to me & I'm grateful. It does sadden me when people argue, judge and hurl insults at each other from both sides of the fence. I'm not going to engage in arguments, but just have a few things I'd like to say:
I NEVER said I left during any particular performance. I only said I left early.
I never pointed out any one particular performance, I only said I had many thoughts about the entire show, which were best left inside my head and that is where they will stay. So those who say I condemned one performance but then condoned others clearly did not read the post.
What I DID say is this: I am honored to be a part of the Christian music community. I've had many people throughout my career ask why I never tried to go in to mainstream music and last night was a beautiful reminder that I love singing about Jesus and FOR Jesus.
I've judged no one. I hate no one. And I believe that every person has been created in the image of God. I will never stand on a street corner and wave a sign, I won't use my platform to engage in political arguments that will only divide and not unite. I will continue to pray that my life will be my message. I do have my own personal convictions that I live by, and I will continue to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord. (Philippians 2:12)
I was honored to be nominated for 2 Grammy awards last night. I'm so grateful that NARAS and The Grammys continue to recognize the contribution that gospel and Christian music make to the world. And I'm so thrilled for those who won in my categories. And I can say that with all sincerity.
My last thought:
"I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus for it is the power of God who brings salvation to ALL who believe."
Watch the music video of Natalie Grant's Grammy nominated single 'Hurricane' below: