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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 of civil marriage
1890-1895
1890-95
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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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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Contemporary definitions for civil-union
noun

a legally recognized and voluntary union of adult parties of the same sex

Examples

Parties to a civil union have all the same protections, responsibilities, and rights as partners in marriage.

See civil partnership

Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
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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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