An amendment to New York City's Domestic Partnership Law permits couples with a certificate of "domestic partnership, civil union, or marriage" to get the same benefits as those enjoyed by married heterosexual couples.
The legislation, with immediate effect, gives benefits principally to homosexual couples, including access to health care for partners, and visitation rights at city hospitals. Beneficiaries include people whose unions "are not explicitly recognized by New York State," Bloomberg said in a statement.
In the United States, certificates of civil unions for gay couples are issued only in Vermont, while California has set up a register of same sex partnerships. With the measure, New York city will also recognize civil unions formalized abroad, such as in France and the Netherlands.