New York (CNN) -- The city clerk's office in New York will begin conducting domestic partnership ceremonies for gay couples starting Thursday.
For more than a decade, the office has handed out certificates for such couplings.
But after the city rules were amended earlier this year, the office decided to add a little fanfare to the unions and conduct marriage-like ceremonies for the pairs.
While domestic partners in New York don't enjoy all the rights that married couples do, such unions can bestow some legal rights -- such as hopital visitation and health benefits.
Marriage for gay couples is still unrecognized in the state. In December, the state Senate rejected bill legalizing such marriages.