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Places where Gay Civil Unions are Legal

Where Can gays and lesbians get Married or Civil Unions?


Miriam and Carla are married!

Miriam and Carla say their vows.

Kathy Belge

Gay marriages are allowed in some countries. Other places allow gay civil unions or domestic partnership agreements. Here is a listing of places gays and lesbians can obtain some legal recognition for their relationships.

United States:

  • California: Gay and lesbian couples can register as domestic partners in California. Couples who register are eligible for many of the same state rights as heterosexual married couples, but only in the state of California. The rights of civil unions do not transfer from state to state like marriage does.
  • Hawaii beginning January 1, 2012 same sex couples can get civil unions in Hawaii.
  • Nevada domestic partnerships offer all of the same state wide benefits of marriage.
  • Oregon offers a comprehensive domestic partnership law that offers all the state benefits of marriage.
  • Illinois: Civil unions are offered in Illinois beginning June 1, 2011
  • Delaware will allow civil unions beginning January 1, 2012.
  • Wisconsin has a domestic partnership law that some limited statewide spousal rights including inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights and family medical leave rights.
  • Colorado has designated beneficiaries which allows unmarried couples to make certain decisions about each other's health care and estate in medical emergencies or death.


  • Liechtenstein, a tiny country of 35,000 people between Switzerland and Austria approved civil partnerships in June 2011. The law is based on the Swiss law and therefore does not allow same-sex couples to adopt children.
  • Finland offers civil unions in which same-sex couples have similar rights to marriage, such as joint custody of children and immigration rights.
  • France has a Civil Solidarity Pact which grants same or opposite sex partners rights of next of kin, inheritance, social security, and tax benefits.
  • Germany recognizes next of kin and property inheritance rights for same sex couples who register as partners.
  • United Kingdom. Since December 2005 gays and lesbians in the United Kingdom have been eligible to register for Civil Partnerships. Gay and lesbian couples who register will receive some of the same rights as married couples, including accident compensation, life insurance, immigration, inheritance, spouse and child support and workplace benefits.
  • Switzerland offers registered partnership with some of the benefits of marriage, but NOT adoption rights or the right to fertility treatments.


  • Israel. In December 2004, Israel announced it will give limited rights to same-sex couples. The attorney general has directed government offices to now recognize same-sex couples for monetary and property issues. The decision reverses a legal opinion that gay and lesbian couples cannot be sanctioned under Israeli law.
  • New Zealand. As of December 2004, gay and lesbian couples will be able to register their unions in New Zealand and receive many of the same rights as heterosexual married couples. The law allows couples to have a ceremony and the right to claim next-of-kin status when a partner dies and have control over a partner's medical treatment.
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