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>From: Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force <[log in to unmask]>
>Subject: Same-sex marriage in the Netherlands!
>
>-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>New York Times
>By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
>Filed at 1:30 p.m. ET
>
>THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- The Netherlands, long among the gay rights
>vanguard, enacted a bill converting the country's ``registered same-sex
>partnerships'' into full-fledged marriages, complete with divorce guidelines
>and wider adoption rights for gays.
>
>Proponents say the legislation will give Dutch gays rights beyond those
>offered in any other country.
>
>Lawmakers thumped their desks in approval when the vote passed 109-33, and
>some of the scores of witnesses in the packed public gallery applauded and
>embraced.
>
>Parliament had discussed the bill last week, when only a few small Christian
>parties voiced opposition during an emotional and often heated three-day
>debate. It gained speedy approval Tuesday.
>
>``I'm very happy. What happened today represents changes in our society,''
>said Mark Wagenbuur, 34. He said he and his partner, who came with him to
>watch the vote, will now formally wed, but their immediate problem is ``we
>don't know who should ask whom.''
>
>In Norway and Sweden, gay couples can already register their partnerships
>and Denmark has gone a step further -- it was the first country to allow gay
>marriages in 1989. Two years ago, the Netherlands enacted a law allowing
>same-sex couples to register as partners and to claim pensions, social
>security and inheritance.
>
>But the new Dutch legislation goes farther, creating full equality for gays,
>activists said.
>
>Same-sex couples will be able to marry at city hall and adopt Dutch
>children. They will be able to divorce through the court system, like
>heterosexual couples.
>
>Boris Dittrich, a member of the centrist Democrats 66 party and a proponent
>of the plan, said the law ``acknowledges that a person's sex is not of
>importance for marriage.'' He spoke during what he called ``the most moving
>debate'' of his parliamentary career.
>
>``We will be able to call it what it is and that's marriage,'' said Henk
>Krol, an activist and editor-in-chief of the Gay Krant magazine. He said the
>vote ``will be an absolute first in the world.''
>
>The law is expected to take effect early next year. Krol said he plans to
>convert his own partnership status to marriage as soon as it does.
>
>Displaying unusual solidarity, all three parliamentary factions in the
>governing coalition -- the left-of-center Labor Party, the Liberal VVD and
>the smaller Democrats 66 -- backed the proposal. Even a few members of the
>biggest opposition party, the largely traditional Christian Democratic
>Alliance, or CDA, have expressed support.
>
>The plan hasn't been recognized by the dominant Protestant or Roman Catholic
>churches, but a few breakaway churches have sent encouraging letters to
>legislators.
>
>The Remonstrant Brethren, which broke from the Protestant church in 1619,
>was one step ahead of the Dutch parliament, having accepted gay marriages in
>1986. The Remonstrants and a group called the Old Catholic Church are the
>best-known supporters of gay rights here.
>
>While gays will enjoy new liberties in the Netherlands, they may run into
>trouble when they travel in countries where homosexuality remains illegal.
>The Foreign Affairs Ministry has proposed offering legal assistance to Dutch
>citizens in such cases.
>
>Some opponents fear the unique position of gays could isolate the Dutch and
>set the Netherlands apart.
>
>The bill will create ``a world without foundations ... where the historical
>understanding of marriage is torn from its roots,'' said Kees van der
>Straaij of the Reformed Political Party.
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>Dorothy Mammen
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>***************************************************************
>*  Dorothy Mammen                                             *
>*  Coordinator, Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force           *
>*  [log in to unmask]                                    *
>*                                                             *
>*  Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force                        *
>*  PO Box 1312                                                *
>*  Middlebury, VT 05753      phone/fax: 802-388-2633          *
>*  [log in to unmask]    http://www.vtfreetomarry.org     *
>*                                                             *
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