Marriage between two people (any two people) is a sacred union, traditionally sanctioned by the laws of the land. The issue of same-sex marriages, however, has traditionally been cause for many heated debates across the globe. Though not officially considered a marriage, civil unions are as close to a marriage most countries are willing to get. Though these unions allow for same-sex couples to live together and enjoy many of the rights and privileges of heterosexual marriage, they are not defined as legal marriages. Consequently, many civil unions are not privy to the rights and benefits of a traditional marriage.
In the United States, for instances, the legality and subsequent rights of civil unions differ from state to state. In states that permit civil unions, they do not convey the same benefits as married couples enjoy, namely, the right to inherit property and file joint taxes. The first sanctioned civil union took place in Vermont in 2000. According to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, states are not required to recognize any same-sex marriages or civil unions. Consequently, 37 of the 50 states have opted to uphold the DOMA and ban civil unions and same-sex marriages outright.
With the help of an online search, a same-sex couple can find out where same-sex marriages are allowed in the United States. Marriage records have always been used as a good source of information concerning marriage history in every single state, which could be very useful when finding out the matrimonial laws concerning the marriage of same-sex individuals. It is no secret that same sex unions have been treated differently from opposite-sex unions.
Understanding Where and How to File Civil Unions
Same-sex couples who wish to make their union legal need to understand where and how to file for a civil union. Couples are encouraged to contact such advocacy groups as GLAAD to find out more information about filing. In states that permit same-sex marriages and civil unions, all of the necessary marriage records can be accessed online through the respective Departments of Health & Human Resources or Vital Statistics.
Both opposite-sex and same-sex couples must in some states appear before the city clerk, complete the application for a civil union license, and provide certified copies of divorce (if previously married) and/or death certificates for any previous marriages or civil unions (if any). The couples would also be asked to provide identification in order to confirm the date of birth, such as a certified birth certificate, passport or driver's license. The couple would also be required to pay small fee (the fee depends on the state where the civil union application is being filed).
After the civil union ceremony is performed, the officiate (the person who officiates the marriage ceremony) will then return the certificate to the town or city clerk, where the civil union license was issued. This is carried out within six working days. As soon as the certificate is received from the couple's officiate, the couple can request a civil union certificate from the clerk's office. In some states, one person of the couple will be expected to appear in person in order to request the certificate. It may also be requested by mail.