These Same-Sex Couples Couldn’t Get Married in China, So They Came to America

China decriminalized homosexuality in the 1990s, but same-sex marriage isn’t legal.
Xu Na hugs her new wife at a group wedding in California. (Photo: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)
Jun 11, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Michael Schramm is a University of Michigan student covering social justice and economics. His work has appeared in USA Today and The Michigan Daily.

Earlier this week, several Chinese same-sex couples had a dream come true in California: They got married. Tears filled the eyes of those attending as the couples—dressed in blue suits, black suits, dresses, and overalls—exchanged their vows in the historically gay neighborhood of West Hollywood.

China decriminalized homosexuality in 1997 but hasn’t legalized same-sex marriage. So these couples’ marriages won’t be legal in their home country.

Clearly, the battle to provide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people with basic human rights is gaining traction around the world. At least 21 countries have legalized same-sex marriage; last month, Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on same-sex marriage in the coming weeks. This comes as the majority of Americans support the right of same-sex couples to marry.

The Chinese couples entered a contest called “We Do,” sponsored by Taobao, a Chinese shopping website that is a subsidiary of Alibaba. The contest asked for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples to submit a video describing their relationship and explaining why they wanted to get married. The companies helping Taobao chose 20 submissions, and then visitors to Taobao’s website selected the 10 couples given the opportunity to marry.

A Reuters photographer, Lucy Nicholson, captured the moment. Here are some of her images.

Duan Rongfeng has makeup applied before marrying his partner of 11 years.

Hu Zhidong adjusts his fiance's boutonniere before they exchange vows.
Xu Na marries Xue Mengyao.
Xu Na and her new wife display their rings.
Duan Rongfeng lifts his new husband, Li Tao.
Chinese couples celebrate after getting married in California.