Same-sex marriage in the Netherlands has been performed and recognized since 1 April 2001. The Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage.
On 1 January 1998, registered partnerships (Dutch: geregistreerd partnerschap) were introduced in Dutch law. The partnerships were meant for same-sex couples as an alternative to marriage, though they can also be entered into by opposite-sex couples, and in fact about one third of the registered partnerships between 1998 and 2001 were of opposite-sex couples. For the law, registered partnerships and marriage convey the same rights and duties, especially after some laws were changed to remedy inequalities with respect to inheritance and some other issues.
As early as the mid-eighties, a group of gay rights activists, headed by Henk Krol - then and now the editor-in-chief of the Gay Krant - asked the government to allow same sex couples to marry. Parliament decided in 1995 to create a special commission, which was to investigate the possibility of same-sex marriages. At that moment, the Christian Democrats (Christian Democratic Appeal) weren't part of the ruling coalition for the first time since the introduction of full democracy. The special commission finished its work in 1997 and concluded that civil marriage should be opened up. After the elections of 1998, the government promised to tackle the issue. In September 2000 the final legislation draft was debated in parliament.
The marriage bill passed the House of Representatives by a majority of 109 against 33 votes. The Senate approved the bill on 19 December 2000. Only the Christian parties, which held 26 of the 75 seats at the time, voted against the bill. Though the Christian Democratic Appeal party has since 2006 been the largest party in the present coalition, there has not been any indication of an intention to repeal the law.
The main article in the Act changed article 1:30 in the marriage law to read as follows:
- Een huwelijk kan worden aangegaan door twee personen van verschillend of van gelijk geslacht.
- (A marriage can be contracted by two people of different or the same sex)
The law came into effect on 1 April 2001, and on that day four same-sex couples (Mr Peter Lemke and Mr Frank Wittebrood, Mr Tom Jansen and Mr Louis Rogmans, Ms Helene Faasen and Ms Anne Marie Thus, Mr Dolf Pasker and Mr. Geert Kasteel) were married by the Mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen. He specifically became a registrar to officiate at the weddings. A few months earlier, Mayor Cohen was the junior Minister of Justice in the government and responsible for putting the new marriage and adoption laws through parliament.
Residency and other restrictionsEdit
The nationality and residence rules are the same for same-sex and heterosexual marriages, and require that either partner must have Dutch nationality or reside in the country. The marriageable age in the Netherlands is 18, or below 18 with parental consent.
A same-sex marriage in the Netherlands does not guarantee that it will be recognized in another country, though a heterosexual marriage generally will be. It is likely that they may only be accepted in countries that recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions for same-sex couples.
The one legal difference between same-sex marriages and heterosexual marriages is in parentage. By law, the biological mother of a child is the child's mother (article 1:198 of the civil law) and the father is (primarily) the man she is married to when the child is born. Moreover, the father must be a man (article 1:199). Since the father must be a man, the only parental relationship a female spouse of the biological mother can have to a child of their marriage, is also mother. However, article 1:198 states that she must adopt the child to make that happen. So the woman married to the biological mother is not automatically a legal parent of their children. However, in 2002 the civil law was changed to (partially) remedy this situation: in cases where a lesbian couple is married and one has a child but the biological father does not become a parent (a sperm donor, for instance), then both spouses have parental authority under article 1:253sa. Of course, in marriages of two men the issue doesn't occur since biology forces full adoption in this case.
Netherlands Antilles and ArubaEdit
Both autonomous regions recognize same-sex marriages performed in the Netherlands as a result of a Dutch Supreme Court order. The Supreme Court declared that, according the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, all marriages performed in any of the constituent countries of the Kingdom, are valid in all parts of the Kingdom.
As Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles are autonomous from the Netherlands and have their own laws regarding marriages, it is not possible to perform a same-sex marriage on the islands themselves. Same-sex marriages also do not have the same rights and benefits as marriages between a man and a woman.
Fundamentalist religious groups opposed the recognition of same-sex marriage in the Netherlands (see e.g. Khalil el-Moumni). After the Dutch parliament legalized same-sex marriage the Protestant Church of the Netherlands permitted individual churches to decide whether or not to bless such relationships as a union of love and faith in the face of God, and in practice many churches now conduct such ceremonies. 
Local governments are obliged to perform civil same-sex marriages, and they can require their personnel to marry same-sex couples; however, if their existing contract did not state this requirement, they cannot be fired over a refusal to do so.
Some local councils choose not to require registrars who object to same-sex marriage to perform ceremonies; though this is usually a decision made by Christian political parties, it can be said that it would not benefit a same-sex couple if the official performing the marriage was unhappy doing so, potentially ruining the occasion.
In 2007, controversy arose when the new government (Fourth Balkenende cabinet) announced in its government policy statement that individual officials who object to same-sex marriage on principle may refuse to marry such couples. Some Socialist and Liberal dominated municipal councils opposed this policy, as they claimed it is the job of a registrar to marry all couples regardless of gender. The opposition parties stated that if an official opposed this aspect of the job, he or she should not perform that job at all. The municipality of Amsterdam announced that they would not comply with this policy, and that registrars there would still be obliged to marry same-sex couples. In reaction to this, many other municipalities announced their rejection of this proposal as well. The Balkenende government then claimed that deciding this issue was not within the remit of municipalities but solely within that of the central government. At present, municipalities still decide for themselves if they hire registrars who object to marrying same-sex couples.
Template:Life in the Netherlands According to provisional figures from Statistics Netherlands, for the first six months, same-sex marriages made up 3.6% of the total number of marriages: a peak of around 6% in the first month followed by around 3% in the remaining months: about 2,100 men and 1,700 women in total. By June 2004, more than 6,000 same-sex marriages had been performed in the Netherlands.
In March 2006, Statistics Netherlands released estimates on the number of same-sex marriages performed in each year: 2,500 in 2001, 1,800 in 2002, 1,200 in 2004, and 1,100 in 2005.
- LGBT rights in the Netherlands
- Recognition of same-sex unions in Europe
- Timeline of LGBT history
- ↑ Same-Sex Marriage Legalized in Amsterdam
- ↑ Dutch Legislators Approve Full Marriage Rights for Gays
- ↑ Netherlands legalises gay marriage
- ↑ Dutch legalise gay marriage
- ↑ Same-Sex Dutch Couples Gain Marriage and Adoption Rights
- ↑ Dutch approve gay marriage, adoption
- ↑ Dutch gays allowed to marry
- ↑ "World's first legal gay weddings", TVNZ, 2001-04-01. Retrieved on 2009-10-08.
- ↑ World's first legal gay weddings
- ↑ Dutch gay couples exchange vows
- ↑ http://www.expatica.com/nl/news/dutch-news/Antillean-court-rejects-Dutch-law-in-gay-case_53791.html
- ↑ National Service Centre PCN, The Uniting Protestant Churches in the Netherlands and homosexuality, November 2004.
- ↑ Officials allowed to object against same-sex marriage
- ↑ "PvdA en GroenLinks: ambtenaren mogen homohuwelijk niet weigeren", Algemeen Dagblad, 2007-03-17. Retrieved on 2009-10-17. Template:Languageicon Archived from the original on 2007-09-30.
- ↑ Arguments against government plans (Dutch)
- ↑ Statement of the municipality of Amsterdam (Dutch)
- ↑ Homosexual unions slowly gain momentum in Europe
- ↑ Thornberry, Malcolm. "Netherlands' Gay Marriages Level Off", 365Gay, 2006-03-20. Retrieved on 2009-10-17. Archived from the original on 2006-03-21.
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