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The clever way Utah made it easy for hundreds of Chinese same-sex couples to get married

Sometimes you've got to make the law work for you.

china gay marriage, utah gay marriage, online gay marriage

The Old Utah County Courthouse (Provo, Utah) and Shanghai's first gay pride parade.

Utah probably doesn't come to most people's minds when they think of places that are champions of marriage equality. Especially in Utah County, where Provo is located, which has the highest concentration of Latter-day Saints (72%) of any place in the U.S.

Latter-day Saints, known as Mormons, can be excommunicated from the church for acting on LGBTQ feelings and have put large amounts of money into campaigns to make same-sex marriage illegal.

However, two loopholes in Utah County law reported by The Guardian have allowed same-sex couples from across the globe to marry in the state. First, Utah does not have residency or citizenship requirements for marriage licenses. Second, Utah County allows for international marriages online.




The county rolled out online marriages via Zoom during the pandemic, which made it easy for people overseas to get married. All they have to do is fill out some paperwork, pay $100 and hire a licensed officiant. The paperwork is “to verify who they are,” radio host and licensed marriage officiant in Utah Michael Foley told The Guardian, “to make sure they’re of age, that it’s not part of some kind of scam, that it’s not some kind of human trafficking.”

When word of this loophole spread on Chinese LGBTQ websites, same-sex couples from all over the country began virtually flocking to Utah to get hitched. Rest of World reports that more than 200 same-sex couples from China have tied the knot through the county’s digital licensing system since 2021.

In China, same-sex marriages are illegal and marriages conducted overseas aren't recognized but couples are happy to have their relationships recognized by a legal authority somewhere in the world.

However, the Utah provisions are beneficial to residents of the Chinese city of Hong Kong, which has a little more autonomy given its designation as a Special Administrative Region. Hong Kong residents who get married in other parts of the world can apply for dependent visas for their partners. These couples are also allowed to file their taxes as married in Hong Kong.

Even though same-sex Chinese couples aren’t married in the state where they live, having their relationships legally recognized in Utah has strengthened them. It’s a strange situation when couples can escape the tyranny of the state in a place where religious fundamentalism can be just as repressive.

“Even without legal status in China for now, many gay couples … have told me that marriage has made their relationships feel more secure,” Zhijun Hu wrote in ChinaFile. “And, as one friend told me when he and his husband go to a place where marriage equality is the law of the land, their marriage means that they ‘will be treated like a family and not like strangers.’”

Newlyweds Liu Yangming and Zhu Guangyu believe that their marriage ceremony and Utah license have helped to solidify their relationship. “It made our love stronger,” Liu told Rest of World. “My husband was talking more about our responsibilities. Before, we thought we might break up someday, but now we can’t just break up.”

Foley loves being able to help people from around the world realize their dream of being married, even if it means he has to get up at odd hours of the night to accommodate his Chinese customers.

“It just makes me happy,” Foley said. “That’s the stuff that makes me get up at three o’clock in the morning to do it.”

Family

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@ustheremingtons/TikTok

There's a lot to be gleaned from this.

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All in all, it enables couples to handle the daunting new chapter as a team, making it less stressful on both parties. Or at least equally stressful on both parties. Democracy!

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This time around, for baby number two, Remington had the privilege of taking seven weeks off (to be clear—his employer offered four weeks, and he used an additional three weeks of PTO).

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After his wife passed away when Tony was 81 years old, he undertook the heartbreaking task of sorting out all of her belongings. That’s when he stumbled upon a carefully concealed letter in a filing cabinet hidden for over half a century.

The letter was addressed to Tony and dated March 1959, but this was the first time he had seen it. His wife must have opened it, read it and hid it from him. The letter came from Shirley Childress, a woman Tony had once been close with before his marriage. She reached out, reminiscing about their past and revealing a secret that would change Tony's world forever.

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One customer must've realized the disappointment that can occur after not receiving a tip when serving tables because he went out of his way to give one. In a post shared on Reddit, a customer revealed in a letter that he realized he took the wrong receipt after leaving. Instead of taking the blank one, he took the merchant's copy which holds the tip amount and his signature.

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When humans make sound underwater, we expel air over through our vocal chords and the air we release rises to the surface as bubbles. But baleen whales don't have vocal chords, and they don't create bubbles when they vocalize. Toothed whales, such as sperm whales, beaked whales, dolphins and porpoises, have an organ in their nasal passages that allows them to vocalize, but baleen whales such as humpback, gray and blue whales don't.

Whales are notoriously difficult to study because of their size and the environment they require, which is why the mechanism behind whale song has remained a mystery for so long. It's not like scientists can just pluck a whale out of the ocean and stick it in an x-ray machine while it's singing to see what's happening inside its body to create the sound. Scientists had theories, but no one really knew how baleen whales sing.

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“The reason this is a powerful hack is because the left side of the face is more likely to reveal the ‘true emotion’ or the ‘dominant’ emotion if there’s a mix,” Vaughan says. The reason? “The right hemisphere of our brain does more heavy lifting in dealing with processing emotions. The left hemisphere…is a little more analytical or ‘strategic.’”

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