With so many people, groups, and leaders talking about same sex marriage and it's impact, we wanted to keep the facts straight and list a few of the most widely used terms and their definitions. If you can't find a term you think would be helpful contact us and we would be happy to list it. All definitions were found on unless otherwise stated.

The process of formally altering or adding to a document or record; A statement of such an alteration or addition: The 19th Amendment to the Constitution gave women the right to vote.

Civil Marriage
A marriage ceremony performed by a civil official; a marriage performed by a government official rather than by a clergyman

Civil Right
Right or rights belonging to a person by reason of citizenship including especially the fundamental freedoms and privileges guaranteed by the 13th and 14th amendments and subsequent acts of Congress including the right to legal and social and economic equality

Civil Union
A legally recognized and voluntary union of adult parties of the same sex; a voluntary union for life (or until divorce) of adult parties of the same sex; "parties to a civil union have all the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities under Vermont law as spouses in a marriage"

The system of fundamental laws and principles that prescribes the nature, functions, and limits of a government or another institution; The document in which such a system is recorded.  (In the United States of America individual states have constitutions as well as one federal constitution.)

Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) does two things.  First, it provides that no State shall be required to give effect to a law of any other State with respect to a same-sex "marriage."  Second, it defines the words "marriage" and "spouse" for purposes of Federal law. (The Lectric Law Library -

Marriage (traditional)
The state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a legal, consensual, and contractual relationship recognized and sanctioned by and dissolvable only by law

Marriage (religious)
A marriage performed by a religious official subject to applicable religious guidelines. The may or may not be recognized by civil government unless a license is issued to the official.

Same-sex Marriage
Gay marriage; the union of two same-sex partners; also called same-sex marriage, same-gender marriage, homosexual marriage

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