As a sign of growing acceptance of same-sex partnerships, Facebook has added two new options under relationship status in users’ online profiles—‘Civil Union’ and “Domestic Partnership.’ Beginning on Thursday, the new selections were being introduced in the United States and several other countries, including Canada, U.K., France, and Australia—winning praise from many equal rights’ groups.
“This has been a highly requested feature from users,” said Facebook’s Andrew Noyes, manager of public policy communications. “We want to provide options for people to genuinely and authentically reflect their relationships on Facebook.”
Previously, users only had the choices of: single, in a relationship, married, engaged, it’s complicated, in an open relationship, widowed, separated, and divorced. The new changes were created in consultation with Facebook’s Network of Support, a group that includes LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] organizations such as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, and the Human Rights Campaign.
“As LGBT people face a patchwork of relationship recognition laws, this gives people more tools to adequately describe their relationship,” said Michael Cole-Schwartz, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign. “Facebook has been a company that has tried to be inclusive of the LGBT community and this just one sign of it.”
Richard Socarides, president of Equality Matters and former gay rights advisor to President Bill Clinton, echoed Cole-Schwartz’s praise. “Facebook has always been an empowering place for gay people–it’s a place you can be yourself in relative safety,” Socarides told the Huffington Post in an email. “This is a natural progression of that. In most places, gay Americans can’t yet marry but they may be able to formalize their relationship short of marriage. This change reflects that reality. Well done.”
The change represents a milestone for the LGBT community. People’s attitudes usually change long before laws and the new Facebook change is just another example of an attitude shift in America relating to homosexuality.