10 years of same-sex marriage in the Netherlands

by Rex Wockner


It was 10 years ago April 1 that the Netherlands became the first nation in the world to let same-sex couples marry.

Now same-sex marriage is legal in 12 nations, including in five U.S. states and the District of Columbia, and the Netherlands has seen nearly 15,000 same-sex marriages.

This reporter was present for the first Dutch gay weddings on April 1, 2001, and wrote: "Amid an international media frenzy, the weddings took place at City Hall as the law became effective at the stroke of midnight. Mayor Job Cohen officiated.

"As Cohen finished his opening remarks at 11:58 p.m., the audience in the City Council chambers began syncopated clapping as they waited for the room's clock to click over to 12:00. When it clicked, cheers erupted.

"The ceremonies themselves took about half an hour. Cohen stood where individuals stand to address the City Council. The four couples sat in the front row of the seats where the councilors sit.

"Cohen read the marriage vows once for each couple and they individually responded, 'Yes.' Each couple shook hands, kissed and signed documents which were then signed by the mayor.

"A reception followed in the City Council foyer and the couples departed in four brightly colored Volkswagen Beetles for a party at a gay club."

In the intervening 10 years, 14,813 of the Netherlands' 55,000 gay couples have gotten married, according to Statistics Netherlands.

Of those couples, 7,522 were female and 7,291 were male. There have been 1,078 same-sex divorces, 734 of them by female couples.

Same-sex marriage is legal in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Mexico (where same-sex marriages are allowed only in the capital city but are recognized nationwide).

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