Civil Union 0

A Real Alternative to Marriage?

In general, civil unions were designed to provide rights and benefits to couples living as if they were married but who have not legalized the union through a formal ceremony.

In truth, governments who have enacted civil unions have done so primarily to extend rights and benefits to same-sex couples who do not meet the requirements for a legal, traditional marriage.

In many countries, a civil union is the same as a registered domestic partnership and both grant all the rights and responsibilities of a heterosexual married couple. Denmark was the first country to legalize such a union back in 1989 and many other countries have since followed. In the U.S., only a handful of states offer civil unions, none of which are recognized by the federal government.

In Vermont for example, civil unions were created to appease a Supreme Court ruling that ordered the state to extend the same benefits and rights to same-sex couples as was extended to married couples. To appease both sides of the argument, the civil union was established, allowing same-sex couples to receive their benefits without granting them the right to marry.

The primary difference between a civil union and a registered domestic partnership is that civil unions are formal ceremonies performed by a state official, such as a judge or magistrate. Registered domestic partnerships on the other hand are primarily found in municipalities, although there are a few states that have statewide registries.

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