20 years ago today, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize marriage equality

20 years ago today, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize marriage equality
via Partij van de Arbeid / Flickr

One of the biggest changes in the developed world over the past 20 years has been the expansion of gay rights and the acceptance of the LGBT community. In the U.S., a poll conducted in 2004 found that Americans opposed gay marriage by a margin of 60% to 31%. By 2019, those numbers had flipped with 61% being pro-gay marriage 31% against.

One of the landmark moments in the fight for gay rights happened twenty years ago to the day, April 1, 2001, when the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage.

It all began in the mid-'80s when a group of gay rights activists, headed by Henk Krol – then editor-in-chief of the "Gay Krant" – asked the government to allow same-sex couples to marry.

In 1995, the Dutch parliament created a commission to investigate the idea and in 1997, it decided that marriage rights should be extended to same-sex couples.

In September 2000, the final legislation draft was debated in the Dutch Parliament and it passed the House of Representatives by 109 votes to 33 and later, the Senate, by 49 votes to 26.

At the stroke of midnight on April 1, 2001, the mayor of Amsterdam Job Cohen married four gay couples in a joint ceremony.

"There are two reasons to rejoice,″ Cohen told the newlyweds before pink champagne and pink cake were served. ″You are celebrating your marriage, and you are also celebrating your right to be married.″

Gert Kasteel and Dolf Pasker were among the four couples to be married by the mayor that day. "It is very nice to look back to see how young we were," he said watching a video of the ceremony.

"I'm very proud that it's possible," Kasteel told Reuters. "that we could play a little part of it. We made history."

Since the Netherlands legalized gay marriage, it has been made legal in 28 countries worldwide as well as the self-governing island of Taiwan.

The Netherlands marked the anniversary by floating a massive inflatable pink cake with candles spouting rainbow flames through Amsterdam's canals and flying a large gay pride flag from the church next to the Anne Frank House.

"Nearly 30 countries followed the Netherlands so that's really very nice. Very good for the gay people and for society as a whole, I think because it's important that everyone in society feels at home," Pasker said.

Amsterdam's mayor celebrated the occasion by noting that the gay rights movement has only just begun. "At the same time it is a moment to recognize that the struggle is not yet over; not worldwide, not nationally, but also not in Amsterdam," Mayor Femke Halsema told The Associated Press.

Gay marriage is still illegal in over 70 countries across the globe. In eight of them, homosexuality is punishable by death.

"If you had told me 20 years ago that today same-sex marriage would be a reality in 29 countries, I would not have believed you," Jessica Stern, executive director of the global LGBTQ-rights group OutRight Action International.

"The progress has been great, no doubt. But we have a long road ahead," Stern said.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

I have plenty of space.

This article originally appeared on 04.09.16

It's hard to truly describe the amazing bond between dads and their daughters.

Being a dad is an amazing job no matter the gender of the tiny humans we're raising. But there's something unique about the bond between fathers and daughters.

Most dads know what it's like to struggle with braiding hair, but we also know that bonding time provides immense value to our daughters. In fact, studies have shown that women with actively involved fathers are more confident and more successful in school and business.

Keep ReadingShow less

This blind chef wore a body cam to show how she prepares dazzling dishes.

How do blind people cook? This "Masterchef" winner leans into her senses.

Image pulled from YouTube video.

Christine Ha competes on "Masterchef."

This article originally appeared on 05.26.17

There is one question chef Christine Ha fields more than any other.

But it's got nothing to do with being a "Masterchef" champion, New York Times bestselling author, and acclaimed TV host and cooking instructor.

The question: "How do you cook while blind?"

Keep ReadingShow less
This story first appeared on the author's Medium and is reprinted here with permission.

Because you're a girl.

This article originally appeared on 04.14.17

I was promoted a few weeks ago, which was great. I got a lot of nice notes from friends, family, customers, partners, and random strangers, which was exciting.

But it wasn't long until a note came in saying, “Everyone knows you got the position because you're a girl." In spite of having a great week at a great company with great people whom I love, that still stung, because it's not the first time I've heard it.

Keep ReadingShow less

Gordon Ramsay at play... work.

This article originally appeared on 04.22.15

Gordon Ramsay is not exactly known for being nice.

Or patient.

Or nurturing.

On his competition show "Hell's Kitchen," he belittles cooks who can't keep up. If people come to him with their problems, he berates them. If someone is struggling to get something right in the kitchen, he curses them out.

Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 01.27.20

From 1940 to 1945, an estimated 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, the largest complex of Nazi concentration camps. More than four out of five of those people—at least 1.1 million people—were murdered there.

On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the final prisoners from these camps—7,000 people, most of whom were sick or dying. Those of us with a decent public education are familiar with at least a few names of Nazi extermination facilities—Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen—but these are merely a few of the thousands (yes, thousands) of concentration camps, sub camps, and ghettos spread across Europe where Jews and other targets of Hitler's regime were persecuted, tortured, and killed by the millions.

Keep ReadingShow less

What I realized about feminism after my male friend was disgusted by tampons at a party.

"After all these years, my friend has probably forgotten, but I never have."

Photo by Josefin on Unsplash

It’s okay men. You don’t have to be afraid.

This article originally appeared on 08.12.16

Years ago, a friend went to a party, and something bothered him enough to rant to me about it later.

And it bothered me that he was so incensed about it, but I couldn't put my finger on why. It seemed so petty for him to be upset, and even more so for me to be annoyed with him.

Recently, something reminded me of that scenario, and it made more sense. I'll explain.

Keep ReadingShow less