My girlfriend and i have been together for almost 4 yrs now. We've been talking about getting married and whatnot but im COMPLETLY confused about domestic partnerships and civil unions. Everythings always changing so i am beyond lost as to what each means and if PA even allows any. If anyone can help me understand at least what we can do in PA it would help us out A LOT! Thank you.
Unfortunately, PA has banned same sex marriage and doesn't have any civil union rights for same sex couples. However, there is a group actively fighting for the gay/lesbian couple's right to marry: http://www.pa4marriage.org/ This site will keep you up to date and I'm sure will have a number you can call to get up to date information and status.
If you and your girlfriend want to experience marriage you can always go to a state where it is legal. It will not be valid in PA - but you will have experienced it together which is so important. And the two of you will hold that commitment in your heart and souls forever. My wife and I were together for 25 years when we decided to go to Canada and get married. I didn't think it would be that big of a deal, but it really was. It was such a moving experience and wearing the ring has an impact on me each and every day.
I think the closest state to you is New York.
As far as the difference between civil unions and marriage - I'm not really sure. Although, marriage is the real deal with all the same rights as hetersexual couples. Civil Unions have some rights but is really more of a gesture.
Here is a recent article discussing the status of gay marriage in the US:
"Factbox: Gay marriage in the United States
Fri, Jun 24 2011
ALBANY (Reuters) - New York became the sixth U.S. state to allow gay marriage on Friday. The state-by-state battle over gay marriage has become a contentious U.S. social issue ahead of the 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
Following is a look at laws on gay marriage in the United States:
Six of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage: Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York, the third most populous state in the country.
Four states Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois and New Jersey have approved gay civil unions. But gay marriage is specifically banned in 39 states.
In California a judge last year overturned a ban on gay marriage, but no weddings can take place while the decision is being appealed. It could set national policy if the case reaches the U.S. Supreme Court.
Four states -- New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Rhode Island -- do not explicitly prohibit gay marriage but have not endorsed it, according to DOMA Watch, an advocacy group that supports limiting marriage to men and women.
Courts and state legislatures have legalized gay marriage in the United States but popular votes have consistently opposed same-sex unions, most recently in Maine.
Arizona is the only state where voters rejected a constitutional ban on gay marriage, in 2006, but they approved a similar measure in 2008.
California's top state court in 2008 ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage violated the state constitution. But a few months later, voters amended California's constitution, defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
The first legal same-sex marriages in the United States took place in Massachusetts in 2004"