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

civil marriage

a marriage performed by a government official, as distinguished from a member of the clergy.
Also called civil union.

1890–95 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
civil marriage
law a marriage performed by some official other than a clergyman

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

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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