The Balkenende Government claimed that this issue lay solely within the remit of the central Government.
In practice, municipalities decide whether or not to hire registrars who object to marrying same-sex couples.
Some local councils choose not to require registrars who object to same-sex marriage to perform ceremonies.
At that moment, the Christian Democrats (Christian Democratic Appeal) were not part of the ruling coalition for the first time since the introduction of full democracy.
The special commission finished its work in 1997 and concluded that civil marriage should be extended to include same-sex couples.
The law is only valid in the European territory of the Netherlands and on the Caribbean Islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, but does not apply to the other constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The single legal difference between same-sex marriages and heterosexual marriages was that, in the former case, parentage by both partners was not automatic.