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Netherlands is first nation with same-sex marriage law

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands (BP)–The Netherlands became the first country to legally recognize same-sex marriages on Sunday, April 1.

The move eventually will force other nations to take a stance on the issue, prompted by instances when their citizens become legally married under Dutch law and demand legal recognition in their home countries, according to CNSNews.com.

A mass wedding of homosexuals and lesbians at the Amsterdam Town Hall, presided over by the city’s mayor, was planned for April 1, CNSNews.com reported March 30.

The law, approved by the Dutch Senate last December, requires at least one partner to be a Dutch citizen or resident; the other partner can be a citizen of any country even if that country does not recognize such unions. A statement by the Dutch Senate said, “as far as possible, homosexual marriage will have the same consequence as heterosexual marriage.”

Also approved last December: a bill that made adoption open both to heterosexual and homosexual couples, with an exception only for adoption of foreign-born children stemming from possible international legal difficulties.

The U.S. Congress, in 1996, enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage, for federal law purposes, as a union between a man and a woman. Thirty-four states have passed similar legislation. U.S. homosexual advocacy groups, meanwhile, have held a “Freedom To Marry Day” in February, with rallies, demonstrations and other events in a number of centers.

Other European countries also have liberalized their laws regarding homosexual unions, CNSNews.com reported, noting that none has gone as far as the Netherlands, a country that is also on the verge of legalizing euthanasia.

In predominantly Catholic Portugal, same-sex couples who have lived together for more than two years recently were granted the same rights as heterosexual couples in common-law marriages, CNSNews.com reported, while Germany soon will implement a law giving registered “life partners” some of the benefits enjoyed by married couples.

And Canada’s Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex couples must be afforded the same protections as “spouses” under the law.

Since 1988, the Netherlands has allowed same-sex couples to enter into legal registered partnerships, with rights similar to those of marriage. More than 9,000 couples have been registered, with the new law allowing registered couples to convert their status into marriage if they wish, CNSNews.com reported.

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