A type of quasi-marriage some places (in the US) offer for gays and lesbians. Its marriage, but not quite marriage. It is like 'seperate but equal' in that it is inherently discriminatory.
One drinking fountain was for whites, the other was for blacks, but the one for blacks rarely worked right.
In most places in the United States only straight people can marry. For gay people, civil unions are the 'seperate but equal' answer.
The consolation prize of human rights.
While some people think gays should settle for civil unions, others think they should have the right to marrige.
A politically-correct euphamism invented by liberals to redefine marriage in their own terms and force the rest of us to accept gay marriage, and make it equivalent to conventional marriage between a man and a woman. Liberals try to make it a matter of civil rights. It is not a matter of civil rights, but a matter of recognizing marriage for what it is: a union between a man and a woman only.
Civil Unions is a term that marriage-hating liberals invented to force the rest of us into beliving that anybody can be married to anything or anybody, and that marriage between a man and a woman is "antiquated" or "narrowminded."