A law that made marriage equality a reality in the Netherlands goes into effect.
Shortly after midnight on April 1, 2001, the mayor of Amsterdam officiated the weddings of four same-sex couples. The law that made the unions legal had just gone into effect. Passage of the aforementioned law the year before made The Netherlands the first country in the world to grant marriage equality to its citizens.
The Netherlands already had a well-established reputation as gay-friendly. Sodomy laws were struck down in the early nineteenth century. In the 1970s, anti-LGBTQ discrimination was banned in the military. By the nineties, the LGBTQ community had won protection from discrimination in employment, public accommodations, and housing. In 1998, the Netherlands began granting domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples. The marriage equality law also legalized adoption by LGBTQ couples.
The passage of this landmark law provided a necessary template for other nations to use in enacting marriage equality. As the law didn’t allow for foreign nationals to wed in the country, it also provided an impetus for LGBTQ couples around the world to step up pressure on their governments to enact marriage equality. Within ten years, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Sweden, Norway, and multiple states in America had legalized the practice. There are currently twenty-nine countries where same-sex marriage is legal.