AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Dec. 20 (AP) -- Gay couples are celebrating legislation by the Dutch parliament's upper house, clearing the final hurdle to legal marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.

In the next few months, parliament will strike the words "mother and father" and "man and woman" from civil law, amending them to read "partners" and wiping out the last references distinguishing gays from heterosexual couples.

With little fanfare, an overwhelming majority of parliament members stood by their desks Tuesday in the First Chamber to register their vote in favor of the bills, and no count was needed. The lower house passed the bills Sept. 12 by a vote of 109-33.

The legislation, expected to take effect next April, will affect some 20,000 Dutch children with parents of the same sex. But the laws will not allow nonresident gay couples to marry in the Netherlands or register adopted children here.

"As far as possible, homosexual marriage will have the same consequences as heterosexual marriages," said the Justice Ministry in a statement Wednesday. "The normal rules on maintenance obligations will apply to same-sex marriages."

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