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A US officiant marries 10 same-sex couples in Hong Kong via video chat

HONG KONG (AP) — Ten same-sex couples got married in the United States over the internet from Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous southern Chinese city that does not formally recognize such unions but offers them legal protections.

The event Tuesday was timed to mark Pride Month, with a registered officiant from the American state of Utah making their marriages official. Most states require the couple to appear in person to fill out paperwork and present identification, but Utah does not, and its digital application process has made it a go-to for online weddings since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Family members gathered in a hotel wedding hall in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district as couples exchanged rings, then raised their glasses in a toast.

“I hope one day that everybody would accept the fact that love is not just between a man and a woman. It’s between two people who love each other,” said Lucas Peng, a 66-year-old Singaporean businessperson living in Hong Kong, and one of the 20 people tying the knot in Tuesday’s semi-virtual event.

“It’s just two humans who love each other. That’s the key. That’s the important part. And to be able to publicly declare our love for each other today is a very important step for us, definitely,” Peng said.

Wedding organizer Kurt Tung said he hoped the event would send a message to the public.

“In Hong Kong, there’s not yet a way to go to a marriage registry to get married, but there’s still this way we can offer for them to realize their dreams of getting married,” Tung said.

Keeping with cultural and religious traditions, Hong Kong only recognizes weddings between a man and a woman. Self-governing Taiwan is the closest place that issues same-sex marriages, and Hong Kong recognizes those couples’