Civil Union

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A civil union is a marriage-like relationship. It is often between members of the same sex.

Beginning of Civil Union

Vermont was the first state in the US to recognize civil unions. The state supreme court ruled in Baker v. State of Vermont that the state had to extend to same-sex couples the common benefits and protections granted to those who marry under Vermont law. The Vermont legislature passed legislation creating the opportunity for same-sex couples to obtain a “civil union” license.

States Regulation

Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa, New York, and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage to take place under their laws. Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Rhode Island allow same-sex civil unions.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia offer legal recognition of same-sex relationships under their laws or recognize legal arrangements entered into in states where such recognition is granted.

New Development -- Same-Sex Marriage

The United States Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex marriage is legal in every state and each state must recognize a same-sex marriage performed in other states.

See Also Civil Union Partners.

[Last updated in May of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]