According to the Vermont Civil Unions Act of 2000: (partial quote)
§ 1201. DEFINITIONS

(2) "Civil union" means that two eligible persons have established a relationship pursuant to this chapter, and may receive the benefits and protections and be subject to the responsibilities of spouses.

§ 1202. REQUISITES OF A VALID CIVIL UNION

For a civil union to be established in Vermont, it shall be necessary that the parties to a civil union satisfy all of the following criteria:

(1) Not be a party to another civil union or a marriage.

(2) Be of the same sex and therefore excluded from the marriage laws of this state.

(3) Meet the criteria and obligations set forth in 18 V.S.A. chapter 106.

They can't call it marriage, as marriage between persons of the same sex has been deemed unconstitutional by a Supreme Court decision. But they are extending all state benefits (taxes, medical etc.) to parties in a civil union, making it equivalent to marriage. Federal benefits still remain off limits.

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