Giving Thanks to the Netherlands


On Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 2002, gay and lesbian Americans in the Netherlands and their partners organized the first annual Love Exiles Thanksgiving celebration.

The evening honored the Netherlands government for its leadership in the area of immigration rights for same sex couples. The Netherlands was one of the first countries to grant residency rights to foreign partners, irregardless of sex or marital status.

Speakers included Boris Dittrich, member of parliament for D66, and Eric Koldenhof, chairman of the local district city council. Mr. Dittrich was a key figure in opening up of marriage rights to same sex couples, and was honored for his contributions to the Dutch-American gay and lesbian community.

Many binational Dutch-American gay and lesbian couples have married since the historic change in the marriage laws on 1 April 2001. Mr. Dittrich spoke of anticipated recognition of Dutch same-sex marriages in other countries. Dutch same-sex marriages have not yet been recognized outside of the Netherlands. He also praised the gay and lesbian movement in the United States for its leadership in successfully lobbying for adoption rights, noting that the United States is one of the few countries in the world where gay and lesbian couples can adopt.

The event was attended by 70 gay and lesbian Dutch-American families and their friends, and members of the gay and lesbian senior citizens group from Het BOC community center, which hosted the evening. Dutch-American couples living outside the Netherlands sent greetings of support and expressed interest in organizing similar events in other European countries.

In giving acknowledgment to families and communities for their contributions to the lives of American gays and lesbians, the American community received a huge dose of warmth, love and support from those present. The love exile community expanded in numbers and become visible for the first time, and went home energized, empowered, and thankful to live in the Netherlands.

Here are some photos of the evening.

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©2004 Stichting Love Exiles

How Many U.S. Love Exiles are there in the Netherlands?

At least 3,500.

There are an estimated 35,000 Americans living in the Netherlands.

While we do not have an official count of the number of gay and lesbian immigrants, we estimate that 20% of these Americans are gays and lesbians. Of these 7,000 Americans, at least half have Dutch partners who do not have the right to immigrate to the United States.