Before Marriage Equality finally came to the country, New Jersey adopted the civil union as a separate, but not equal, alternative to same-sex marriage. It was my honor to unite couples in those ceremonies and I know many other officiants were out there doing the same as the fight for marriage equality continued.
One of my civil union couples recently reached out to me about having a marriage ceremony. Up until recently, they had assumed that when Marriage Equality became law that their civil union had been converted into a marriage. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
New Jersey did not convert civil unions into marriages, as this post I found from 2013 explains. Rather, if you have a civil union and wish to be legally married, you still need to get a marriage license and have a marriage ceremony.
When asking their local registrar about this, my couple was told the question had never come up before. This leaves me concerned that many couples out there assume they are “married” because they had a civil union before Marriage Equality became law.
If you want to be, or need to be, or think you are married and you had a civil union in New Jersey or some other state, please check with your local registrar to confirm your marital status.