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New York to conduct civil ceremonies for gay couples

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Clerk's office will conduct marriage-like ceremonies for gay couples
  • Until now, it handed out certificates
  • Gay marriages not legal in the state

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.