Main article:Same-sex marriage in Vermont
Civil unions have been legal in Vermont since a 2000 State Supreme Court ruling requiring that the state recognize same-sex couples on par with heterosexual couples however leaving to the legislature the choice of whether to legalize same-sex marriage or some other form of relationship recognition.
The legislature, under pressure from then Governor Howard Dean, opted for civil unions over marriage as a compromise measure. The act took effect on July 1, 2000. Recently, however, a same-sex marriage bill was passed by the legislature with a veto override on April 7, 2009. The bill came into effect on September 1, 2009. After this date, no new civil unions will be performed.
Main article:Same-sex marriage in Connecticut
In 2005, the Connecticut legislature became the first state in the United States to legalize civil unions without a court order. The law took effect on October 1, 2008 and was signed into law by Connecticut governor Jodi Rell. Gay rights groups subsequently sued to legalize same-sex marriage, with the Connecticut Supreme Court deciding in their favor in 2008. Same-sex marriages have been performed since November 12, 2008. On October 1, 2010, all existing civil unions will be automatically transformed into marriages.
Recognition of same-sex unions in New Jersey
Complete NJ Civil Union Law
After a ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court, the state has legalized civil unions. The ruling similar to the ruling in Vermont has required the state grant all the benefits given to heterosexual couples to homosexual couples as well. Prior to the ruling same-sex couples enjoyed a broad-range of benefits under the states domestic partnership law. The Civil Union Act took effect on 19 February 2007. Gay rights groups however have stated their dissatisfaction with the law and have promised to continue pushing for same-sex marriage in 2007 and 2008. The Governor, Chris Christie, has indicated he would veto a same-sex marriage bill if passed.
Main article:Civil unions in New Hampshire
On April 4, 2007, the New Hampshire House passed a civil unions bill, HB437, with a vote of 243 to 129. The bill is designed to imbue partners in same-sex civil unions with the same "rights, responsibilities and obligations" as heterosexual couples in marriages in the state of New Hampshire. On April 26, 2007, the New Hampshire Senate approved the civil unions bill 14-10 along political party lines. Governor Lynch signed the bill into law on May 31, 2007, making New Hampshire "the first state to embrace same-sex unions without a court order or the threat of one". The civil unions law took effect on January 1, 2008.
New Hampshire has since legalized same-sex marriage, which will come into effect on January 1, 2010. At that date, no new civil unions will be established in the state. Furthermore, all existing civil unions will be converted into marriages on January 1, 2011.