by Rex Wockner
Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen married five binational gay couples on a boat during the gay pride canal parade Aug. 1.
The couples were purposefully composed of one Dutch citizen and one resident of New York state. Same-sex marriage is not allowed in New York, but New York recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
The weddings created the disconnect of the couples now being married in the Netherlands and in New York, where they would not have been allowed to get married, and also not being married in the eyes of the U.S. government, which holds the keys to more than 1,000 marriage rights and obligations, including spousal immigration rights.
“As a result, thousands of U.S. citizens are forced into exile in countries like the Netherlands, where their relationships with their foreign partners are recognized and where they enjoy equal rights in family law,” said Martha McDevitt-Pugh of the Love Exiles Foundation.
On April 1, 2001, Cohen conducted the first same-sex marriages in the world, after the Netherlands became the first nation to allow them. Same-sex marriage has since been legalized in Belgium, Canada, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Spain and the U.S. states of Connecticut, Iowa and Massachusetts. It also has been legalized in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, but the laws have not yet come into effect.
More than half a million people turned out for Amsterdam’s waterborne pride parade.