Facebook recently began offering users new ways to describe their romantic situation by adding “in a civil union” and “in a domestic partnership” to its official list of relationship statuses.
In the past, Facebook’s 600 million users were offered choices including “single,” “in a relationship” and “it’s complicated.” Members also had the option to hide gender description and relationship status in their public profile.
The decision to include the options came after Facebook negotiated with users and rights advocacy groups, explained a spokesman representing the social-networking site.
"This has been a highly requested feature from users," Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes commented, according to the San Francisco Chronicle .
"We want to provide options for people to genuinely and authentically reflect their relationships on Facebook."
Interestingly, just last month, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes announced plans to marry his partner, Sean Eldridge, in New York. Their plan, however, cannot happen unless New York changes its law, which currently prohibits gay marriage. Eldridge is political director for the homosexual lobby Freedom to Marry.
Gay and lesbian advocates have expressed approval of the new feature.
"By acknowledging the relationships of…same-sex couples in the U.S. and abroad, Facebook has set a new standard of inclusion for social media," wrote Jarrett Barrios, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
The Facebook option is currently available only in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and France.
Currently, same-sex marriage is only legal in the nation’s capital of Washington D.C. and the states of Iowa, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire.