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Dutch Law Allows Same-Sex Marriages

AP, Mar. 31, 2001
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/20010331/aponline193114_000.htm Off-site Link


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AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- Four gay couples exchanged rings and vows at City Hall early Sunday, the first of hundreds planning to wed under a new Dutch law allowing same-sex marriages.

The ceremony capped a 15-year campaign to award gay couples equal rights under civil law. It began at midnight, when legislation approved last year took effect.

Standing around a conference table, three male couples and one female couple held hands as Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen officiated.

"And now we have the marriage of two men and two women," Cohen said after each agreed to accept his or her partner as a spouse.
(...)

"In the Netherlands, we have gained the insight that an institution as important as marriage should be open to everyone," he said.

Though several other countries register same-sex couples and some call them marriages, rights groups have hailed the Dutch legislation as groundbreaking. It eliminates all references to gender in laws governing matrimony and adoption, going so far as to amend the dictionary to eliminate references to "man and woman" in the definition of marriage.
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A handful of demonstrators protested outside City Hall, calling the unions "unnatural." "We hope these people will chose to return to the Lord," said Cor de Vries, 30.

Gays have enjoyed general acceptance in the Netherlands for years, and public surveys show that more than 75 percent of the population supported the equal rights bill.

In Amsterdam, gay pride is celebrated annually with a carnival and parade, and the city hosted a sporting event for homosexuals called the Gay Games.

The weddings consolidate the Netherlands' position at the forefront of social liberalization. Last year it legalized brothels and decriminalized euthanasia, and marijuana and hashish are sold at regulated establishments.
(...)

Dutch religious parties remain opposed, and the Vatican has called the Dutch move a "great danger."
Before the ceremony, Cohen told reporters he believed the Dutch law would be a stimulus for other countries to reassess their views on gay marriages.
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