Are same-sex marriages contributing to Saipan’s tourism industry?
Based on the Saipan Mayor’s Office’s record of marriages, the CNMI has seen a 115% jump in the number of same-sex marriages being performed on the island, with 207 recorded from January to September this year, compared to the 96 recorded during same period in 2018.
Of these same-sex marriages this year, 39 are male-couple marriages, and 168 are female couples. The increase came from female couples, with last year’s count at 59.
While there have been such marriages among island residents, majority of the same-sex marriages are Chinese, according to Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang.
“Most of our same-sex marriages are actually coming from China,” Apatang said. “I think it is easier for them to come here and get married. They can come to Saipan overnight, schedule a marriage through us [Saipan Mayor’s Office], come here, pay, and then we will perform their marriage.”
Apatang officiated the first same-sex marriage on the island in July 2015, after it become legal in the Commonwealth on June 26, 2015, following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that it is unconstitutional to ban same-sex marriages.
“I have long supported the right of same sex couples to legally marry if they choose to enjoy the same privileges and protections as married heterosexual couples,” Rep. Tina Sablan (Ind-Saipan) said. Sablan is a Pride Marianas ally, and a supporter of same-sex marriages.
“Love is love,” Sablan added. “It transcends everything. And I’m proud of our Marianas community for creating such a welcoming space for love in all its wonderful and diverse expressions.”
At the CNMI Ally Week celebration last September, the CNMI government recognized, through a proclamation, the progress made in expanding LGBTQ rights, as a reflection of advancing human rights, on the island.
Another ally, Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence executive director Maisie B. Tenorio, stresses that the roots of violence are nourished by oppressive belief systems.
“I look forward to the day that every single human will know that freedom. It’s about time we focus our energies on fighting oppression and violence, and celebrating love,” Tenorio said, adding that violence thrives on the belief that certain groups have the rights to oppress other groups.
“As an ally and an advocate for the rights of all humans, I feel that people, no matter their gender or orientation, should be able to love and marry, if they believe in it, whomever they choose,” Tenorio said. “Our world needs more love and we should be celebrating all the ways that people love each other, not building walls and creating barriers.”