In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the entire world to legalize same-sex marriages. Let me just say this again, eleven years ago, the Dutch national government voted in a 3-1 margin, to allow gays and lesbians to marry.

Since then, nine other countries have also voted to legalize same-sex marriages. Those countries are: Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland and Argentina.

In the Netherlands, there are about 75,000 civil marriages each year and about 1400 of them are for same-sex couples.

Recently, President Barack Obama made headlines all around the world, for his statement supporting same-sex marriage. This was historic for many reasons, never before had a sitting American president given gay marriage an endorsement. However important this announcement is, it does not change any laws. I view it as diving into the pool, now we have to swim and finish the race, and that will take a little longer. Right now, there are six states that allow same-sex marriages, but the federal government does not recognize gay married couples. As an example, a married Dutch gay couple visiting the United States, are not recognized as a legal couple. And a couple married in Massachusetts are not recognized as married in Texas.

But in this country and the other nine countries, there are no limits to where you can be married. You can get married in Madrid or in Valencia…you can get married anywhere in Spain. You can get married in Amsterdam, Maastricht or here in Utrecht…anywhere in the Netherlands. This law means that no matter what region you live in, you can get married, if you are part of a same-sex couple.

I say thank you, Mr. President. Thank you very much. Now let us get working on the second part of the race. We got on the diving board and got into the water, now the real work begins. But it is also a time to celebrate and smile. Full equality just got a little closer to reality.

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  • Aledys Ver  On May 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    When the other day I heard the news of Obama’s statement on same sex marriage, I actually didn’t give it much thought. It was just one more statement made by a president who is in the middle of a campaign and is going for a reelection. He could also have added that he thinks that there should be more scholarships for students or that health insurance should be affordable.

    As I did my usual daily reading of the news on both sides of the Atlantic, I realised that in fact, it WAS a big deal – for the US, that is.

    I actually looked up the interview the President gave on Good Morning America. During the interview he mentioned how his two girls sometimes talk about their friends’ parents -some of whom are same sex couples- and how they (the girls) would not register that these parents could be treated differently; to them, these are just their friends’ parents and nothing more.

    In a way, that is exactly what happened to me when I heard the news – I don’t register this topic as being an issue, I don’t even consider how people can be treated differently because of who they decide to live with; I live in the Netherlands and I come from Argentina – in both places the topic is something of the past and I realise now that I have to give thanks for that.

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