The pragmatic Dutch should be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about. A decade after the Netherlands legalized marriage for same-sex couples with a minimum of brouhaha, the issue has spurred a fierce and emotional debate in two other European countries, France and Britain. The disputes focus on plans by the Socialist government in France and the Conservative-led government in Britain to introduce legislation next year that would allow same-sex marriage. The British government announced its proposals on Tuesday with a compromise that left both sides of the debate unhappy. The proposed law specifically excludes the established Anglican churches of England and Wales by forbidding them from marrying same-sex couples, while other faith groups such as Quakers and liberal Reform Jews would be allowed to opt into the system.
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