A civil union (also known as a civil partnership) is a legally recognized arrangement similar to marriage, created primarily as a means to provide recognition in law for same-sex couples. Civil unions grant most or all of the rights of marriage except the title itself. Around the world, developed democracies began establishing civil unions in the late 1990s, often developing them from less. Supreme court struck down a federal gay-marriage ban, the number of states with same-sex marriage has more than doubled. Seven out of 10 americans now live where gay couples can legally wed, up from 38 in 2013. The remaining 15 states with bans have legal challenges pending. See how marriage laws have evolved since 1996 by region, with areas sized by population. Civil unions for same-sex couples have been allowed since 2008 and same-sex marriages since 2013, in accordance with the nations same-sex marriage law passed in early 2013. Additionally, same-sex couples have been allowed to jointly adopt since 2009 and gays, lesbians and bisexuals are allowed to serve openly in the military. Same-sex marriage in malta has been legal since 1 september 2017, following the passage of legislation in the parliament on the bill was signed into law by marie-louise coleiro preca, the president of malta, on on , the minister for equality issued a legal notice to commence the law on 1 september 2017. Portugal created de facto unions similar to common-law marriage for cohabiting opposite-sex partners in 1999, and extended these unions to same-sex couples in 2001. However, the 2001 extension did not allow for same-sex adoption, either jointly or of stepchildren. On 11 february 2010, parliament approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. Communist attitudes towards lgbt rights have evolved radically in recent years. In the 19th and 20th century, communist states and parties varied on lgbt rights, some were among the first political parties to support lgbt rights while others persecuted lgbt people (especially gay men) up to encompassing state sponsored murder. In the 21st century, communist parties in the west are almost. In 2010, massachusetts, the first state to legalize gay marriage, found section 3 of domathe part of the 1996 law that defined marriage as a union between one man and one womanto be.