In Lebanon, religious authorities rather than the state hold sway over issues such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and burial. "Civil" weddings do not exist. But in January, a young Beirut couple announced that they had used a legal loophole to do just that. The ban on civil marriage often means Lebanese from different religions have to go abroad to tie the knot. For activists, allowing civil unions would be a major step towards erasing the sectarianism that has plagued the country for years.