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civil union

a relationship between a couple that is legally recognized by a governmental authority and has many of the rights and responsibilities of marriage:
civil unions for same-sex couples. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Contemporary definitions for civil union

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.

See civil partnership's 21st Century Lexicon
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Word Origin and History for civil union

by 2000, the usual U.S. term for legally recognized same-sex unions short of marriage.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for civil union

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

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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