Gay marriage in Holland – Why Dutch liberalism works


I moved to The Netherlands just over three months ago and my international relocation from Melbourne has coincided with the furious debate over the upcoming Australian postal vote on gay marriage. Perhaps debate is a slight overreach. It would be more accurate to say that those in Australia who are pro-gay marriage can just about say or do anything they want, from headbutting Australian politicians, to firebombing Catholic buildings and then conveniently dying before justice could be served. Whereas those on the No side of the equation are bad and evil people who must be punished for the sin of having an opinion and wishing to vote along those lines.

I have been observing these tumultuous events from afar, but not just from afar; from the very first country in the world to legalise gay marriage back in 2001. And so I decided to do a bit of digging, a bit of observation, and a bit of using my prodigious brain to examine the present situation in which I find myself – living in a country that gave homosexuals what they apparently so dearly desire. And the effect on the country and its population?

As far as I can tell, absolutely nothing at all.

Now if you happen to be of the pro-gay marriage persuasion, you may be tempted to knee-jerk yourself to a state of great excitement at that news. After all, do the progs not dismiss and mock the slippery slope arguments as a matter of routine? But this line of reasoning would be erroneous in the extreme. Gay marriage has had no ill effects in Dutch society due not to the supposed innocuous nature of gay marriage, but to the nature of the Dutch themselves.

To understand this it is necessary to take into account the historical precedents of liberalism. The Dutch more or less invented liberalism in the 16th and 17th centuries, and they have spent the following three hundred years perfecting its application to their culture and society as a whole. The Dutch are the most liberal people in the world. Check into a family hotel in Holland and you will find such random paraphernalia as anal lube and butt plugs in the pullout drawer next to your bed. The Dutch will just as casually state to the effectiveness of their sexual activity that morning as they will comment upon the weather. The red light districts and hashish coffee shops of Amsterdam attract hordes of young desperadoes from around the world.

And yet in all the time I have lived here I have never once identified a homosexual in public. I have never seen two men holding hands, let alone kissing. I have no doubt that there are homosexuals here but you wouldn’t know it to glance around. Contrast this with any Australian city and you can’t walk three paces without some random poof mincing his way across your field of vision.

I thought that this was very curious indeed. Sex is far from a taboo subject in Holland and yet the multitudes of enthralling beautiful young women dress demurely and with good taste. The Dutch invented gin and are enthusiastic consumers of all alcohol products but I have never seen the kind of drunken public behavior that characterises the Anglo-Saxon world. You can openly purchase hashish at your leisure but any native Dutch who use the drug seem to be looked down upon with a fair degree of pity. So what on earth is going on?

Yesterday The Z Man wrote an article that touches on this question:

“Russell Kirk argued that there are three cardinal ideas in Western civilization. There is the idea of justice, the idea of order, and the idea of freedom. Justice is the process that protects a man’s life, property, natural rights, status and his dignity. Order is the principle and the process to ensure that a people will have just leaders, loyal citizens, and public tranquility. Freedom is the principle that a man is made master of his own life.”

The last one is critical to this discussion. A man may only be master of his own life if he is beholden to the consequences of his actions. It is personal responsibility that determines the degree of freedom within a society. And the Dutch are very big on the idea of personal responsibility for oneself and for the consequences of their actions. Very big indeed.

This upholding of individual responsibility manifests itself in the public and social virtue that is personal restraint. The Dutch are absolutely fine with whatever you do behind closed doors, but they will not tolerate for a second any attempt to impose outside values upon them. In other words, gay marriage was passed in Holland but nobody was forced to bake cakes that they did not want to bake. And the Dutch wouldn’t even dream of forcing religions to go against their core beliefs and officiate gay marriages.

Gay marriage works in Holland because of the balance that is present within Dutch society. The Dutch are tolerant but expect tolerance in return. It is a two way street. The result is a society that is the most liberal and tolerant in the world but yet exhibits a strong family identity along with high levels of restraint and personal responsibility.

Anglo-Saxon nations such as Australia, the USA, Canada, and Great Britain have adopted the ideas of Dutch liberalism but without the corresponding balance of personal responsibility, or if the tenants of personal responsibility and restraint previously did exist they were nonetheless allowed to erode. In Australia the values of hard work, thrift, and personal sacrifice have been almost abandoned as more and more Australians have given themselves over to being dependent on the state, behavior which only a few generations ago would have resulted in a fair degree of shame. The Dutch are taxed to within an inch of their lives but the idea of mooching off their fellow citizens is anathema to them.

Gay marriage is not an option in Australia because, unlike The Netherlands, Australian society is not mature enough to handle such an eventuality. Whether Australia will ever reach the required level of maturity is another question. Based upon the social arc of the last fifty years it seems highly unlikely.

Gay marriage in Australia is about tearing down the religious institution of marriage. In Holland it was about letting homos get married.

  • Dan Flynn

    ‘Gay marriage in Australia is about tearing down the religious institution of marriage. In Holland it was about letting homos get married’
    It sounds like you don’t have much of a problem with the basic idea of gays getting married but take issue with Australia’s unique approach to the topic.
    If the yes vote wins and the law is changed, I would imagine we’d all just get on with our lives and our institution of marriage would remain fully intact.

    • Bikinis not Burkas

      “If the yes vote wins and the law is changed, I would imagine we’d all
      just get on with our lives and our institution of marriage would remain
      fully intact.”
      Except that I can see the Muslims demanding Sharia Law Marriage to 9 year olds and 4 at a time, with all the Centrelink benefits that come with the 30+ children.
      Quran 65:4

      • James

        Well if there’s a strong Yes result from the survey the argument will be there for same sex child marriage. The survey question is if you support changing the act to allow for same sex marriage. It doesn’t specify that it be between adults as the act currently does.

        I don’t know how anyone could vote Yes to that survey unless they’re potentially ok with paedophilia or the idea of children being married.
        It’d only take a court case win and lets face it judges wear gowns and we all know other institutions where men wear gowns that evidently peadophiles are drawn to.

    • *misses point of article completely*

      • Dan Flynn

        I was *making my own point that is entirely related to the subject raised in the article*

    • Earl Conner

      I don’t have a problem with two gay people publicly committing to one another, that this recognized by the state, and it provide all the legal benefits of marriage. I do however take issue with redefining the word ‘marriage’, allowing gay couples to parent children, and our education system teaching that homosexuality is natural and healthy. Remember the argument ‘what two people do in their bedrooms is their own business’? Well now the left wants to force it to be everyone’s business. If you and many other intelligent people can’t see the social engineering element to this in Australia, then all may be lost.

      • Dan Flynn

        Hi Earl,

        I appreciate your response.

        The fact is that gay people already parent children, that horse has bolted and, gay marriage or not, it’s not going to change.

        Homosexuality is not a new phenomenon, in any given population it is absolutely normal to have some gay people and those gay people can and do have normal, healthy relationships. They are human after all.

        I also agree that people’s bedroom behavior should be kept private, but I don’t see what this has to do with gay marriage. I don’t want to know what goes on in anyone’s bedroom and that includes gay and heterosexual people.

        Teaching kids that it’s OK to be gay is hardly what I would call ‘social engineering’, it simply teaching them to respect others who a different. There are many documented cases of young gay kids killing themselves or developing mental health issues due to bullying. Surely teachers would want to do something about that.

        ‘Well now the left wants to force it to be everyone’s business’
        I really don’t understand why you feel that way because it’s not your business, nor is it mine. We’ve just been asked to vote on changing the law, we don’t need to attend their weddings or hear about their honeymoons! In fact we don’t need to do anything other than tick yes or no. If it bothers you to hear about gay marriage then just change the channel or maybe just don’t worry about it so much, just get on with your life, we’ll all be dead some day and this stuff just ain’t worth your time.
        Enjoy your day.


        • Earl Conner

          Hi again Dan. I enjoy your presence at XYZ and think it shows you have real strength of character to present your views here. I’ve tried to understand the crux of the gay marriage ‘debate’, and I believe that people with a progressive mindset simply can’t process any suggestion that there could be negative ramifications to this change. I think it would be futile to counter your points, but I’d just like to say I’m no moral relativist or defeatist, and I voted NO on this matter out of good conscience. I sincerely hope you don’t find yourself on the ‘Penny Wong’ side of history.

          • Dan Flynn

            Cheers Earl, let’s respectfully disagree, Dan

    • entropy

      I would imagine if we allowed incestuous and polygamous marriages, we’d all just get on with our lives and our institution of marriage would remain fully intact.

      I would imagine, Dan, that if someone murdered you in cold blood and sent your dismembered corpse to all four corners of the country, we’d all just get on with our lives and our institution of marriage would remain fully intact.

      I’m a little confused, because you seem to earnestly want to make a point but I don’t see one appearing anywhere.

      If you can posit an actual, logical argument in favour of gay marriage, don’t be shy. I’m sure we’d all love to hear it. But I’m only going to give you one shot at this, because I don’t plan to sit here all day debunking your backup arguments, too. So lead with your strong suit.

      You want to change the meaning of a word as old as language and a custom as old as history because…?

      • Dan Flynn

        Apologies for the late reply E,

        Your question reads like a giant piece of cheese in a mouse trap!
        I’ve been around here long enough to know your views on gay marriage as I’m sure you know mine. The fact is you have succinct views on why gay marriage is a bad idea and I cannot prove you wrong. It just happens that I attach different meanings to gay marriage and do not think it is a threat to anything I hold to be important.

        The reason I commented on this article was because I was honestly intrigued and more than a little confused by the author’s apparent suggestion that gay marriage in the Netherlands, while not ideal, was OK as it was merely ‘letting homos get married’. However in Australia, gay marriage is ‘tearing down the religious institution of marriage’. I don’t know how changing a law in one country could mean so little while changing the same law in another country could mean so much.

        In my view, many customs have changed that were ‘as old as history’. Marriage itself has changed dramatically over the centuries and even the past few decades. My parents got married in a church, I got married in a paddock. Divorce has increased exponentially and now we have shows like ‘Married at First Sight’, talk about changing the meaning of a word!! (although I’m sure you’re no fan of that show either).

        In the same way that the institution of marriage has survived in the Netherlands, USA, Britain, Ireland etc etc I think Australia’s institution of marriage will be just fine. Heterosexual people will still get married, still love each other and still get divorced!

        • entropy

          No apology necessary for enjoying your weekend, Dan.

          I’d say marriage has seen quantitative changes throughout history, as opposed to qualitative changes. It still exists in the same form it always has in the vast majority of jurisdictions around the world, but is seen as less important.

          Divorce has increased mostly due to women taking advantage of the welfare state and no-fault divorce, which ensure they are not punished for breaking marriage vows but are actually financially incentivised to cheat on their husbands and seek sole custody of the kids. This is evidenced by the fact that women initiate more than two-thirds of divorces, and this is a product of feminist entitlement rather than any fundamental flaw with the institution of marriage itself.

          I don’t think you should trivialise a lifelong oath to keep your fingernails clean, let alone to love and care for another human being. I’d probably abolish divorce altogether, if only to teach people some personal responsibility.

          I can’t speak knowledgeably on the differences between Australia and the Netherlands, I’m just making the point that there is no actual argument in favour of SSM. There exists, in logic and reason, no argument why fundamentally different things should share the same name.

          Heterosexual marriage will survive gay marriage, yes, but then people surviving cancer isn’t a good reason to give everyone cancer.

          • Dan Flynn

            ‘I’d probably abolish divorce altogether, if only to teach people some personal responsibility.’
            Now that’s an idea!
            I believe in the concept of marriage very much. I’m lucky to be married to someone who I actually love and care deeply about, someone I can communicate with and who is willing to make compromises. I think this is sadly lacking in many marriages which is why the divorce rate is so high.
            Also I think women tend to be less tolerant of relationships that are not working i.e. men can often put up with more shit in a marriage than women which is why women initiate divorce more often. I’m sure some women do break marriage vows for the reasons you mentioned but I have a hard time believing this is the norm.

          • entropy

            So when justifying the fact that women initiate more divorce, is that because you think women are incapable of understanding the gravity of the oath they are making, or just that women are less likely to keep their promises?

            I won’t try to speak for what is the norm, but a 70/30 gender split in initiating divorce is HUGE and it’s a fact that the divorce rate exploded after the introduction of no-fault divorce in 1975, having previously been stable for a century.

            Enjoy your happy marriage, Dan, because marriage is just one more thing the Baby Boomers have fucked for everyone else.

  • Vote No!

    No fag marriage. Not ever. Under any circumstances. No matter how benign it is presented as, it’s totally perverted.

    #repeal the rainbow

  • Interesting. We know that we are different.

    They let their teenage kids wander around at their leisure as well. Only abos do that here.

  • Malcolm Smith

    Research in the Netherlands indicated that SSM has resulted in lower rates of marriage among those who are social liberal.