April 1, 2001– Huwelijk tussen personen van gelijk geslacht! The Netherlands was the first country on our pretty spinning blue orb to legalize same-sex marriage.
Back in the mid-1980s, a group of gay rights activists asked the government to allow same sex couples to marry. Dutch Parliament decided in 1995 to create a special commission, which was to investigate the possibility of same-sex marriages. During this era, the Christian Democrats were not part of the ruling coalition for the first time since the introduction of full democracy in 1815. That special commission finished its work in 1997 and concluded that civil marriage should be extended to include same-sex couples. After the election of 1998, the government promised to deal the issue. In September 2000 the final legislation draft was debated in the Parliament.
The marriage bill passed their House of Representatives by 109 votes to 33. The Senate approved the bill on 19 December 2000 by 49 to 26. Only the Christian parties, of course, voted against the bill. Although the Christian parties formed the next government, they decided not repeal the law.
The new marriage law to read simply:
“Een huwelijk kan worden aangegaan door twee personen van verschillend of van gelijk geslacht. (A marriage can be entered into by two persons of opposing or the same sex).”
The law went into effect on this day in 2001, and on that day four same-sex couples were married by the Mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen, who became a registrar specifically to officiate at the weddings. 75 percent of the population supported the bill. Dolf Pasker, married his partner of six years, Gert Kasteel. One couple had been living together 36 years. Pink cake & pink Champagne were served to 150 guests.
Children did not wander the picturesque cobble stones streets crying in confusion. Straight couples did not find their own marriages crumbling. The canals did not dry up. Anne Frank’s house did not erupt in flames. Hashish could still be enjoyed in the coffeehouses & the Red Light District still provided some sort of release for heterosexual men from the USA. There were no fingers placed in any dykes. Paintings by Rembrandt & Van Gough did not crash to museum floors.
Today, 21 countries proudly allow people of the same sex to be married. I married my guy on our 25th anniversary as a couple, October 9, 2004, in Vancouver BC.