Over the last year, Sun and Hu's case has begun putting gay marriage on China's agenda, calling national and international attention to the country's fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
Since Chinese law does not account for the possibility of discrimination based on gender or sexual identity, the cases have not broken any legal ground on civil rights. But each development has garnered coverage in the Chinese press, getting the country talking at the very least.
The desire to break the silence was part of what convinced Sun and Hu to sue. Sun, who works in tech, and Hu, a security guard, were both raised in the Chinese heartland in families that did not talk about sexual identity. Both have felt — and fought — pressure to stay silent, to be ashamed.
Last June, they went to their local civil affairs bureau and tried to register their marriage, only to be turned away.
They found a lawyer and — in a first — a court to hear their case. The Furong District court published an account of the ruling saying that China's marriage laws "explicitly stipulate that the subjects of a marriage are a man and a woman." So Sun and Hu's application for marriage registration did not comply with the law.
Sun said he was "not happy" with the outcome, but would fight on. "It’s going to be a long battle," he said.
Gu Jinglu reported from Beijing.