The Dutch Say "I Do"

Article excerpt

With lots of fanfare and little opposition, the Netherlands becomes the first nation to offer full marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples

Imagine a legislative body that over-whelmingly endorses same-sex marriage. The vote proves so popular that law-makers bang on their desks in approval. Witnesses to the vote break into a spontaneous celebration, with hugs and kisses all around. The bill's opponents are so disheartened that they can barely muster even a mild protest.

Vermont? Hardly. Welcome to the progressive politics of the Netherlands. By a 109-33 vote on September 12, Parliament's lower house, located in The Hague, became the first legislative unit in the world to pass a bill providing gay men and lesbians full family rights--marriage, adoption, and divorce. The upper house is expected to approve the bill, which will most likely become law next year.

"I'm very happy Parliament made us equal to straight couples," said Heinz-Gerd Roes, a longtime Dutch gay activist. "If I had a boyfriend, I would never, ever, have gotten a partnership registration [the current option for same-sex couples] because either my relationship is equal or not; nearly equal, for me, isn't good enough."

Roes said the bill was inevitable. …