10 years of cheese-eating, clog-wearing, tulip-loving, same-sex marriage
March 30, 2011 11:48 AM   Subscribe

1 April 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of the legalization of same-sex marriage (homohuwelijk) in the Netherlands.

Although Denmark was the first country to recognize same-sex unions (called registered partnerships and legalized in 1989), the Netherlands was the first country to make same-sex civil marriages legally equal to civil marriages between couples of the opposite sex.

This was done by changing Book 1 of the Burgerlijk Wetboek[NL] (the Dutch Civil Code) via a bill called the Wet Openstelling huwelijk[NL]. This bill modified Article 30[NL] of the Civil Code, which now reads: Een huwelijk kan worden aangegaan door twee personen van verschillend of van gelijk geslacht. This translates to: A marriage can be contracted by two persons of different or the same sex.

The bill was championed by people such as Henk Krol[NL], founder of gay magazine De Gay Krant[NL]; Boris Dittrich, a then-MP who is now the Advocacy Director for the Human Rights Watch's LGBT Program; and Job Cohen, then the junior Minister of Justice, and later the mayor of Amsterdam.

The bill passed the Tweede Kamer (the House of Representatives) with a vote of 109-33, and was approved by the Eerste Kamer (the Senate) on 19 December 2000.

The law went into effect on 1 April 2001. At midnight, Mayor Cohen married four couples[NL, warm-fuzzy-inducing]: Since then, 14,813 same-sex couples have married, making up less than 2% of all Dutch marriages. However, same-sex couples account for only 1% of all divorces.

Only 20% of the 55,000 homosexual couples in the Netherlands are married, as opposed to 80% of the 4.1 million heterosexual couples. Why? It could be because of legal difficulties that same-sex couples face when they want to adopt children.

Like straight couples, more and more gay couples are opting for registered partnerships, which have been an option for couples of any gender since 1998. Unlike a marriage, a registered partnership can be annulled without a court decision, along with a few other differences[PDF], particularly when it comes to parentage.

The constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands—Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten—do not allow same-sex marriages to be performed within their borders. However, they must recognize marriages that are registered in the Kingdom, regardless of gender.

The city of Amsterdam will celebrate gay marriage in several ways: If you're in Amsterdam and want to learn about more gay goings-on, you can visit the Pink Point information centre, located next to the Homomonument and the Westerkerk (around the corner from the Anne Frank House).

And in somewhat related news, 2011 will be the first time that officially-sanctioned, uniformed Dutch soldiers will join Amsterdam's Gay Pride Canal Parade.
posted by neushoorn (23 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Amount of damage done to traditional marriage: None... or uncountable?
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:53 AM on March 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

At this moment, I can think of nothing more to say than thank you for this post, and kudos to the Netherlands.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:54 AM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

In case it wasn't obvious, my previous post was a joke in poor taste, you know, like you do. Awesome for the Netherlands, and I eagerly await the day when every country joins this simple, obvious bit of civilization.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:59 AM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

What interests me is the margin by which the law passed. 109-33 isn't exactly a close vote and suggests there was quite a bit of interest building at the highest levels even before it was legalized. Makes me wonder what the difference is between the Netherlands and several other highly developed countries that resulted in such early and overwhelming acceptance.
posted by Saydur at 12:05 PM on March 30, 2011

And, closer to the other end of the civilization spectrum, we have the state of Indiana legislature, which overwhelming passed passed the first step toward a constitutional ammendment banning gay marriage in their state. But they didn't stop there:
"The measure senators approved Tuesday, House Joint Resolution 6, also would ban civil unions and arrangements "substantially similar" to marriage."

They are no Uganda, but they are kindred spirits.

Kudos to the Netherlands for recognizing all of our shared humanity.
posted by cal71 at 12:16 PM on March 30, 2011

April Fools, right? Because obviously if this were true, God would have long since flooded the Netherlands.
posted by orthogonality at 12:23 PM on March 30, 2011

Citation for the Netherlands, please? I'm rather surprised that this could be the case in the netherlands.

Did you click the link? It's spelled out in the article.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:30 PM on March 30, 2011

I lived in the Netherlands for some time, and can verify that the entire Kingdom no longer exists, and was in fact simultaneously flooded, smothered under a volcanic eruption, and turned into pillars of salt.

Also, no one gets married there any more, and the only way children are conceived is through IVF. Gay IVF.
posted by 1adam12 at 12:32 PM on March 30, 2011

hal_c_on, almost.
Dutch adoption law only allows gay couples to adopt Dutch children, so this is a restriction that explicitly exists in Dutch law.
posted by atrazine at 12:38 PM on March 30, 2011

Probably a repost, but here's the Rick Mercer Report on Denmark; Come for the fjords, stay for the moral chaos. The death and destruction wrought upon an unsuspecting country by the unmitigated evil that is known as same-sex marriage.
posted by Zack_Replica at 12:43 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Congrats the Netherlands! Not sure why I haven't moved there or even visited to be honest.
posted by jtron at 12:54 PM on March 30, 2011

hal_c_on, If I remember correctly it was enacted into Dutch law to prevent other countries locking us out of their adoption systems.
posted by atrazine at 1:04 PM on March 30, 2011

The same-sex marriage is not in every region of Holland allowed. On Bonaire, a new municipality of Holland, located in the Caribbean, the "homohuwelijk" is still not possible.
At this moment Bonaire is a municipality of Holland and they Bonaireans have to accept the Dutch gay marriage laws by 2012. The introduction of this Dutch law will encounter a lot of resistance.
posted by Waslijn at 1:17 PM on March 30, 2011

Dutch adoption law only allows gay couples to adopt Dutch children

That's ridiculous! Straight couples should be allowed to adopt Dutch children as well!
posted by Rock Steady at 1:30 PM on March 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

The linked article from Radio Netherlands lays out the numbers the most clearly in its sidebar. Between 1 April 2001 and 1 January 2011, there were 14,813 same-sex marriages and 761,010 opposite-sex marriages, for a total 775,823 (or, maybe it's more accurate to say, civil weddings in those years). So same-sex marriages account for just under 2% of total marriages. Between the same dates, there were 1078 divorces of same-sex spouses and 323,549 divorces of opposite-sex spouses, for a total of 325,627 divorces. So same-sex divorces account for less than 1% of total divorces.
posted by neushoorn at 1:32 PM on March 30, 2011

It amazes me that some countries have managed to do this without a lot of uproar and stupidity while others are still floundering. Come on, people - it can't be that difficult, can it?
posted by anaximander at 1:43 PM on March 30, 2011

Zack_Replica, I reckon at least half of the footage in that video is of Norway (did you know that there are NO mountains in Denmark? Nor did the guys who made this video...) Certainly most of the explicitly 'cultural' scenes are Norwegian. The accent is more of a ham-fisted attempt at a Swedish one, as well.
posted by Dysk at 2:50 PM on March 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

neushoorn, this is a great post. Thanks!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:13 PM on March 30, 2011

Using the figures from Radio Netherlands:

Opposite-sex marriage: 42.79% ended in divorce.
Same-sex marriage: 7.28% ended in divorce.
posted by Nerro at 4:30 PM on March 30, 2011

Makes me wonder what the difference is between the Netherlands and several other highly developed countries that resulted in such early and overwhelming acceptance.

Sanity and a baseline respect for simple fucking dignity.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:51 PM on March 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Homos who we like?
Homos who we lick?
Homos have a lick?
Homos hoover like...? (bvrrrrrrrrr...)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:55 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

And Wet Openstelling huwelijk? You're having a laugh, right?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:02 PM on March 30, 2011

Canada's official recognition of same sex marriage was retroactive to 2001 (from 2003 in some jurisdictions and 2005 country-wide). Because one of the marriages recognised was on Jan 14, 2001, the first legally recognised same-sex marriage in the world was performed in Canada, even though we were only the fourth to legalise it.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 9:40 PM on March 30, 2011

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