December 2, 2002
CIVIL UNION RECOGNITION PROHIBITED BY STATE LAW
By: Danielle O'Connell, Legislative Fellow
You asked which states explicitly prohibit the recognition of same-sex civil unions.
Nebraska is the only state that explicitly prohibits the recognition of same-sex civil unions. It's constitution provides that "[t]he uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship shall not be valid or recognized . . . " (Neb. Const. Art. I § 29).
Statutes in Alaska, Florida, and West Virginia contain broad prohibitions that courts might interpret as applying to civil unions or other arrangements that afford couples rights usually available to married couples. Thirty-three other states prohibit recognition of same-sex marriages but do not refer to alternate relationship forms, such as civil unions. OLR Report 2002-R-0957 provides more information about these laws.
ALASKA, FLORIDA, AND WEST VIRGINIA
The relevant portion of Alaska's statute provides that "[a] same-sex relationship may not be recognized by the state as being entitled to the benefits of a marriage" (Ala. Code § 25. 05. 013). Florida's statute states that:
1. Marriages between persons of the same sex entered into in any jurisdiction . . . or relationships between persons of the same sex which are treated as marriages in any jurisdiction
. . . are not recognized for any purpose in this state.
2. The state, its agencies, and its political subdivisions may not give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any state . . . respecting either a marriage or relationship not recognized under subsection (1) or a claim arising from such a marriage or relationship (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741. 212).
Finally, West Virginia's law states that "[a] public act, record or judicial proceeding of any other state . . . respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of the other state . . . or a right or claim arising from such relationship, shall not be given effect in this state " (W. Va. Code § 48-2-603).