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Monday 22 December  
Gay wedding
News Desk's picture
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Ten years of same-sex marriage: a mixed blessing

Published on : 1 April 2011 - 9:57am | By RNW News Desk (Photo: AFP)
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Same-sex marriage

• The world’s first gay wedding took place at midnight on 1 April 2001, when Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen married four same-sex couples.
• Between 1 April 2001 and 1 January 2011, there were a total of 14,813 same-sex marriages in the Netherlands. The number of marriages between two women (7,522) was slightly higher than those between two men (7,291). In the same period, there were 761,010 marriages.
• During that period, there were 1,078 same-sex divorces in the Netherlands, two-thirds of them between women (734), and 323,549 divorces in general.

• Ten countries have legalised same-sex marriage: the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland and Argentina. In the United States it has been legalised in five states: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as Washington, D.C.. In Mexico it has been legalised in Mexico City.

• The total number of same-sex marriages in these countries is not clear. In many relevant statistics are not available, and in some such unions were only legalised last year. In Belgium there were 13,055 same-sex marriages between 2004 and 2009.

Ten years after the Netherlands became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage, homosexual couples still marry far less often than heterosexual couples, partly because they still face obstacles when they wish to have children.

Just 20 percent of Dutch homosexual couples are married, compared with 80 percent of heterosexual couples, fresh figures by Statistics Netherlands show.

Watch a decade of same-sex marriages on video

Number crunching
Since 1 April 2001, when the Netherlands became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage, some 15,000 gay and lesbian couples have tied the knot.

That is two percent of all marriages celebrated in Holland, and just 20 percent of the 55,000 same-sex couples the country numbers.

Among the country’s 4.1 million heterosexual couples, 80 percent are married.

Divorce among same-sex couples accounts for one percent of all divorces.

Marriage for love
“The figures show that over the past ten years gay and lesbian couples have been behaving the same way as straight couples”, demographer Jan Latten of Statistics Netherlands says.

“Many of them marry out of love, of course. But, just as with straight couples, the desire to have children and the resulting legal responsibilities often weigh even more for gay and lesbian couples. 

This could explain why gay couples marry less often than straight ones. Gay couples, especially gay men, still face considerable difficulties when they want to adopt children.”

The similarities between gay and lesbian couples do not end there. “Some relationships last, other ones end”, Latten says. “But annual divorce percentages are pretty much the same for both groups”.

And both gay and straight couples prefer to tie the knot in the spring or the summer.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide


Michael Jones 10 June 2011 - 9:41am / Australia

I would say there are a few reasons why gay men are not marrying as much as straight couples.

Some of my friends are opposed as they see it as a conservative patriarchal construct that is oppressive to women. In getting married it perpetuates and reinforces this construct. They see marriage as a regressive action.
Others see it as state sanctioned intervention on your personal life.
Others realise we are different, two men are never going to conceive so the desire that straights have to wed then populate is not strong. In fact they never grew up all gooey dreaming of marriage and children. They spent most of their time thinking of that hunk of a man.
Others DO NOT want children. They see the raising of children as a taking too much time and energy.

Finally the aid gay men give to their siblings, parents and extended family is a serious thing. Some scientists believe the individual who give assistance to the tribe has allowed some communities to thrive more than others. ie. if you have giving (non-married) individuals in the family they can make the difference of your family succeeding or not.

In my case I assist emotionally, financially etc to my siblings and this children and my parents. If I was to marry, my tribe would suffer as my resources would be focussed on my partner and I.

Anonymous 29 March 2011 - 2:16pm / Lalaland

Hot damn, we have been together now for 60 years, and I still cannot stand her at all.

Bob Summersgill 29 March 2011 - 1:03pm / United States

The list of U.S. states which have legalized same-sex marriage left out New Hampshire and Washington, D.C.

user avatar
News Desk 29 March 2011 - 2:08pm

Dear Mr Summersgill,

Many thanks for pointing that out. I've just added them. 

Kind regards,
Carlos Lechner

sofaman 28 March 2011 - 6:51pm

The headline is a bit inaccurate. The act of delivering true equality to citizens is the foundation of a democracy. In this context the freedom to legally marry is in itself 100% successful. To say that issues of child adoption or percent of same sex marriages amounts to a "mixed blessing" is unsubstantiated. They are separate issues. Like Mr. Mustich, I am happy to live in a state -- Connecticut USA, that has taken inspiration from The Netherlands' lead.

alanposting 28 March 2011 - 9:50am

My partner and I have been together 41 years, not married and do not want children.

Anonymous 27 March 2011 - 6:11pm / Connecticut, USA

Jeez, my spouse, Ken, and I, are about to celebrate 32 years together.
And we're both Justices of the Peace, in beautiful Washington Green, Connecticut, USA.

Cheers, Joe Mustich, USA

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