Ten years ago today, the Netherlands became the first country to offer full marriage rights for gay couples.
Since April 1, 2001, 15,000 gay couples have been married in the Netherlands, with a divorce rate almost identical to that of their straight counterparts. Twenty percent of all gay couples in the Netherlands are now married.
In the last decade, nine countries have joined the Netherlands in granting full marriage rights for gay couples: Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland and Argentina. This means that a little over 3% of the world population lives in a country that allows full marriage equality.
Additionally, five states (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont) and the District of Columbia offer gay marriages as well, and many more states offer civil unions, domestic partnerships, and recognition of out-of-state marriages. 42% of the US population lives in a state that has some form of recognition of same-sex couples, although the Defense of Marriage Act keeps those couples from receiving federal rights.
In Mexico, gay marriage was recently legalized in Mexico City, and these marriages are recognized nation-wide.
(Check out this interesting graph by FiveThirtyEight, which illustrates how gay marriage has been steadily, and rapidly, increasing over the past decade.)
Countless other countries, including the United Kingdom, offer domestic partnerships or some other form of union for gay couples.
Importantly, most of this progress occurred over the last ten years: time is clearly on our side here. Recognition of gay couples - and of gay rights in general - is increasing at an expontential rate.
This is not to say that full LGBT equality is inevitable, nor is it to say that we don't need to work hard. Quite the contrary, most of this progress occurred because we did work hard, because we fought tooth and nail against the anti-LGBT forces and lobbied day and night for our equality. But it is encouraging to see that all of our work is paying off, that the arc of history does bend towards justice and equality, and that LGBT equality will become a reality.
The wind is clearly at our backs: let us harness this energy and this momentum, as we continue onwards, so that we may gain full equality for future generations. Equality is possible: the last ten years prove that. Let's make the next ten years even better for LGBT all over the world.
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