The campaign did produce at least one moment of surreal levity (link in Chinese). At a public hearing in the legislature, a representative of the Family Guardian Coalition asked whether, once same-sex marriage is legalized, it would be “possible in the future to marry a ferris wheel.” Miramar Ferris Wheel, a popular attraction in Taipei, responded in a statement that it had never heard of humans marrying ferris wheels, but that if any gay couples wanted to propose at the wheel, it would be very happy to receive them.

An uphill battle

Jason Hsu, a 38 year-old lawmaker from the KMT who proposed one of the same-sex marriage bills, said the battle will be tough over the next few months. Significant opposition in both the KMT and DPP remains, and some lawmakers might propose a separate “civil partnership law” as a compromise—a move that LGBT activists oppose because it gives them “equal but separate” status.

And what of president Tsai?

At a New Year’s Eve press conference, Tsai said the same-sex marriage debate is a “test (of) the sophistication of Taiwanese society.” But much to the community’s chagrin, she has not spoken out directly in support of marriage equality recently, despite supporting it strongly during her presidential campaign. Some believe she wants to appear neutral in the face of the divides within her own party—or, given her reputation as a negotiator and compromiser, to try to find a middle way. The openness and vibrancy of Taiwan’s debate over same-sex marriage may be a sign of political sophistication, but it has nevertheless left an island deeply divided.

Echo Huang contributed reporting.

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