Marriage Compared to Civil Unions

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Where Can I Go to Marry My Same-Sex Partner?

As of 2014, there are 17 states which recognize same-sex marriage. These states are: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Washington D.C.

Several other states are contemplating same-sex marriage legislation.

What Is Marriage?

Wholly apart from its moral or religious significance, marriage is simply a legal status that is given to a couple by a state government. While it is issued by the government of a specific state, the status of marriage should be recognized by all states and nations the world over. Getting married brings with it numerous rights, protections and obligations at both the state and federal level for both people.

What Is a Civil Union?

A civil union is a legal status that provides protection to couples (either same-sex or heterosexual) at only the state level. Federal protections such as tax and social security benefits are unavailable to the civilly united. States that have civil union laws or similar laws include Colorado, Hawaii, and Illinois.

What Is Domestic Partnership?

A few states and cities have adopted "domestic partnerships" as a way to give some marriage rights to same-sex couples. However, not all the rights given by marriage are the same for a domestic partnership. =States which use domestic partnerships in place of same-sex marriage include: Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Wisconsin.

What Are the Differences Between Marriage and Civil Unions?

There are significant differences between the benefits and responsibilities of marriage and civil unions. People who are married usually enjoy more benefits than those in civil unions, including:

What Can I Do If My State Doesn't Allow Same-Sex Marriage?

There are several options for same-sex couples who cannot legally gain the benefits and protections of married persons. These include:

Do I Need an Attorney to Protect My Family and Partner By the Above Options?

Because of the complexity and wide variation of these legal processes, consultation with a family lawyer in your city or state would be of immeasurable benefit. A lawyer can explain all your options and help you understand what types of legal strategies are right for you and your family.

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Last Modified: 11-15-2013 12:08 PM PST

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