Dozens of couples will marry on air during Sunday night's live broadcast of the music industry's annual Grammy Awards as Macklemore & Ryan Lewis perform their nominated song "Same Love," which has become an anthem in the campaign for legal gay marriage, the New York Times reported.
Queen Latifah will officiate at the nuptials, with pop diva Madonna performing the song with the hip hop duo and featured vocalist Mary Lambert, the Times said. 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," the 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," which broadcasts the awards live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles at 8 p.m. PST (0400 GMT on Monday).
Addressing the potential for controversy, Neil Portnow, the president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 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.
The report said 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.
(Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Marguerita Choy)