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a legally recognized and voluntary union of adult parties of the same sex
Parties to a civil union have all the same protections, responsibilities, and rights as partners in marriage.
by 2000, the usual U.S. term for legally recognized same-sex unions short of marriage.
legal recognition of the committed, marriagelike partnership of two individuals. Typically, the civil registration of their commitment provides the couple with legal benefits that approach or are equivalent to those of marriage, such as rights of inheritance, hospital visitation, medical decision making, differential taxation, adoption and artificial insemination, and employee benefits for partners and dependents