Same-sex marriages top number of church marriages

The number of same-sex marriages topped the number of marriages done in church, based on the Saipan Mayor’s Office records for January through September 2018.

Saipan Tribune learned over the weekend that the Saipan Mayor’s Office has been recording more same-sex marriages compared to church marriages in the first three quarters of 2018, mirroring the same trend in 2017 within the same period.

From January through September 2018 alone, the mayor’s office conducted a total of 96 same-sex marriages—59 same-sex female marriages and 37 same-sex male marriages.

Within the same span, the office recorded only 31 church marriages with February 2018, or the month of Valentine’s Day, yielding no marriages at all.

Same-sex marriage from January to September 2015 through the same span in 2018 had been steadily increasing in numbers while church marriages for the same period have been declining.

In 2016, from January to September, the mayor’s office recorded 238 church weddings, dwarfing the prior year’s 20 marriages for the same months in 2015. Only 67 church marriages followed in 2017’s January to September, while 2018 yielded only 31 church marriages, the second lowest within the four-year span.

In 2015, when same-sex marriage became legal in the CNMI, only 12 couples were married as per the mayor’s office data. The year 2016 had 30, while 2017 jumped to 75 total marriages before peaking at the current data for 2018 at 96. The numbers reflect only the span from January to September.

The Saipan Mayor’s Office noted that they have yet to record marriages conducted for October 2018 onwards since the devastation of Super Typhoon Yutu late in the month forced the office to prioritize cleanup and recovery efforts.

Altogether, the Saipan Mayor’s Office collected over $7.5 million from January through September 2018 from issuing marriage licenses.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.
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