Of the 619 marriages that were conducted on Saipan in 2019, a total of 256 were same-sex marriages between tourists, majority of them being Chinese, according to Saipan Mayor’s Office’s marriage coordinator Bobbi Yamada.
In 2015, when same-sex marriage became legal in the CNMI, only 12 tourist couples got married.
That means the number of same-sex marriages in the CNMI is growing, and that tourists make up 99% of those marriage here on Saipan in 2019, most of them Chinese tourists.
According to the Saipan Mayor’s Office numbers, the year 2016 had 30 same-sex marriages. There were 75 such marriages in 2017. That number grew to 96 in 2018, and then jumped to a whopping 256 in 2019: 197 were for female couples, and 59 male couples. For 2019’s records, it is a combination of late 2018 until September 2019.
“Their reactions, when they learn that it’s legal to get married to the same-sex here, are happy and very excited,” said Yamada.
According to Yamada, China has a large LGBTQ community where they inform each other that it is legal and cheaper to get married to the same-sex in the CNMI than the U.S. mainland.
“It’s more common for Chinese tourists to come on Chinese New Year Year just to get married,” said Yamada. She mentioned that there are already 10 same-sex marriages scheduled on Feb. 28 and 29.
The marriage fee remains the same: nonresidents will still be charged $250 and residents will be charged $130.