The debate over gay marriage has shot up to the top of the U.S. political agenda in recent days, with Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan expressing support for same-sex marriage, North Carolina overwhelmingly passing an amendment banning same-sex marriage, and a same-sex civil unions bill failing in Colorado.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama took his first definitive stand on the question, telling ABC News that "for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married." Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, for his part, reiterated his opposition to "marriage between people of the same gender." (As for the voters, the American public is roughly split on the topic, though support for gay marriage has increased significantly over the past 10 years).
In his interview, Obama added that he still supports the idea of states deciding the issue on their own, despite his personal views. But if same-sex marriage were to become legal in the United States, what club of countries would it be joining? Let's take a tour of the 10 places in the world where same-sex marriage has been legalized -- all in roughly the last decade.
Country: The Netherlands
Year legalized: 2000
How it happened: The Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage when the Dutch parliament passed the most sweeping gay-rights legislation in the world at the time, overcoming opposition from the Christian Democratic Party and other right-wing parties to homosexual couples adopting children. Lawmakers were operating in a receptive climate, however; a poll at the time showed that 62 percent of Dutch people had no objection to gay marriages. More than 2,400 same-sex couples married in the Netherlands within nine months of the law's passage, with the mayor of Amsterdam officiating at the first ceremonies.
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