Dutch Groups Launch Gay Marriage Manual

In the latest battle over convergence on global attitudes and laws regarding homosexuality, Dutch gay rights groups have published a manual outlining how and why their country legalized gay marriage. The guide also offers advice to politicians and activists in other countries on how to promote equal rights for same-sex couples and gays and lesbians more generally. The handbook's publication comes on the heels of the Vatican's recent call for all Catholics worldwide to block legislation allowing same-sex unions, a call which has been rebutted by Christian politicians in the Netherlands. Gay rights activists globally have also been emboldened by Canada's recent decision to permit gay marriages and the US Episcopal Church's confirmation of an openly gay bishop. – YaleGlobal

Dutch Groups Launch Gay Marriage Manual

Tuesday, September 2, 2003

In response to the Vatican's fight against same-sex unions, Dutch gay rights groups have published a guide to gay marriage.

The 60-page manual outlines how and why the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage.

It also offers advice on campaigning in other countries, where the issue is still being discussed, and urges the gay and lesbian global community to fight discriminatory laws in their own countries.

"It's a fight for people who want to be really free and to give equal opportunities to everyone," Dutch Labor Party MP Jose Smits said of the guide.

"It's not simply a matter of gays who want to have the same right as heterosexuals or a moral question," she added, "but a political battle for equal rights for everyone."

Christian politicians back the idea of the guide, which also gives advice to legislators and governments on why it is important to push ahead with gay marriage.

"We have our own responsibility and we are independent representatives of the people of this country in which there is a law which makes it possible for people of the same sex to get married," said Katlien Ferrier, an MP for the senior coalition party, the Christian Democrats.

She added that Catholic bishops must "do whatever they must do," but it doesn't mean all religious politicians must follow their point of view.

The guide follows the Vatican's statement of intent to fight gay marriages across the world. The document, released in July, called for all Catholics to accept a "moral duty" and protest against any legislation that would give gay people the right to marry.

It also called for politicians to block any proposals and repeal laws that allowed gay marriage.

The Netherlands has seen more than 4,000 gay couples marry since it was made legal in 2002.

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