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civil union

noun
1.
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.

civil marriage

noun
1.
a marriage performed by a government official, as distinguished from a member of the clergy.
Also called civil union.
Origin
1890-1895
1890-95
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for civil-union

civil marriage

noun
1.
(law) a marriage performed by some official other than a clergyman
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for civil-union

civil union

n.

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

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

Learn more about civil union with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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