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Civil unions now relationship options on Facebook

The additions to the social network's relationship status options are a small update to the site but a powerful statement on the company's behalf.


Facebook has long permitted members to put on their profiles whether they're single, married, or "it's complicated," but today it added two new options to the mix: "in a civil union" and "in a domestic partnership."

The news was originally reported in a Huffington Post article, which said that the change was made at the recommendation of Facebook's Network of Support, a coalition that the social network created with gay and lesbian advocacy groups to encourage tolerance and combat harassment. At the time, the tragic stories of several gay teenagers who had been "cyberbullied" to the point of suicide were making headlines.

"This has been a highly requested feature from users," a Facebook representative said in an e-mail to CNET. "We want to provide options for people to genuinely and authentically reflect their relationships on Facebook."

It seems like a minor feature, but the addition of civil unions and domestic partnerships--which are options for gay and lesbian couples in states and countries that outlaw gay marriage--is a powerful statement on Facebook's behalf and undoubtedly a welcome option for users who may have found that their lifestyles do not conform to the norms of social-media profiles. According to The Huffington Post article, Facebook is initially rolling out the option in the U.S. and a handful of other countries, including Canada, France, the U.K., and Australia; things could grow more complex offering the option in countries where civil unions and domestic partnerships do not legally exist, or in regions of the world that may be less accepting of homosexuality.

Earlier this week, Facebook was a partner in an anti-cyberbullying campaign launched by MTV, with pop singer Justin Bieber serving as the initiative's spokesman.

This post was updated at 2:23 p.m. PT.