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What is a Civil Union?

A civil union is a legal construct similar to but separate from marriage. Civil unions are designed to let same-sex couples share some of the legal rights of marriage, but these rights are often limited and not always recognized by employers and other agencies. Several states allow civil unions, but under the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, states are not required to recognize the civil unions of other states.

Civil unions are often criticized as being separate but equal – of providing same-sex couples with some of the rights of marriage, but not all. Proponents of marriage equality argue that if civil unions were not designed to be inferior to marriage, there would be no need for two separate laws.

Certain states have made strides in recent years in terms of marriage equality. Most recently New York put an end to its ban on same-sex marriage in July 2011. This sweeping change allowed couples who had previously only been involved in civil unions to seek marriage licenses. The state saw a surge in weddings as many long-term same-sex couples finally got the chance to tie the knot.

Are you in a same-sex relationship? Are you wondering about your rights and marriage options? If so, contact the Meyers Law Group now to get answers from our team of Long Island family lawyers.