Since 2001 it has been possible in the Netherlands for two men or two women to marry. There are certain differences, however, between same-sex marriage and marriage between a man and a woman.
The first country in the world to introduce same-sex marriage
In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to create the possibility for two men or two women to marry. Since then, over 15,000 gay couples have married. Today, same-sex marriage is possible in nine other countries besides the Netherlands.
Children and same-sex marriage
There are a number of important differences between same-sex marriage and marriage between a man and a woman. These relate to children that are born during the marriage.
If a child is born of a marriage between two women, the woman who gives birth to the child is its lawful mother. The woman to whom she is married is not automatically the child's other parent. She only acquires this status if she adopts the child.
The same applies if two men are caring for a child and one of them is the child's father. If they marry, the father's partner does not automatically become the child's other parent.
International status of same-sex marriage
The Netherlands has led the way in terms of opening up marriage for same-sex couples. Nowadays several other countries in Europe (such as Spain and Belgium) have also provided for gay marriage, but same-sex couples should always bear in mind that their marriage and its consequences will not be accepted in every country.