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Arizona

Arizona town approves ordinance to allow civil unions for same-sex couples

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

BISBEE, Ariz. — The city council in a former mining community-turned-artist’s haven in rural southeastern Arizona voted Tuesday night to approve an ordinance to recognize civil unions for same-sex couples.

The measure – approved on a 5-2 vote following an emotional three-hour hearing – makes Bisbee the first Arizona city to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples, giving the couples the rights now enjoyed by married couples.

Bisbee, Ariz. Source

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has said the ordinance would be unconstitutional, and has promised to go to court to block it.

The ordinance said the city of about 5,600 people wants to end “discriminatory practices against members of the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community” so that couples could have lasting and meaningful relationships regardless of sexual orientation.

The measure allows same-sex couples to go to City Hall and pay $76 – the same cost of a marriage license in Cochise County – to enter into a civil union, The Sierra Vista Herald reported. The city clerk would then issue the couple a certificate of the civil union.

Earlier Tuesday, Bisbee City Attorney John MacKinnon said the ordinance’s impact would only apply to things within the city’s control. That includes city personnel policies and the city cemetery, he said. Others will decide how the ordinance might apply to things outside the city’s direct control, such as the hospital, he said.

“We can’t as a small jurisdiction in southeastern Arizona change everything in Arizona,” he said before the meeting.

More than 100 people attended Tuesday’s crowded meeting. The Bisbee Fire Chief, citing worries over a fire hazard, eventually ordered people to leave the building after some attendees began sitting on the floor. People then stood outside City Hall, gazing through open windows at the proceedings.

In advance of the meeting, a conservative Christian advocacy group said the or dinance would violate Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage and would be the subject of a costly legal fight.

In a letter sent Monday, the Phoenix-based Center for Arizona Policy said Bisbee’s ordinance attempted “to do an end-run” around the state’s marriage laws.

MacKinnon said the group was equating civil unions with marriage. “I don’t think that’s necessarily the case,” he said.

Horne said in a statement that the measure attempts to change state law on things such as community property. Only the state can change that law, he said.

In 2008, Arizona voters approved Proposition 102, an amendment to the state constitution that states that “only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage.” The law makes no mention of civil unions.

Two years earlier, voters rejected Proposition 107, a measure that would have prohibited same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships.

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42 more reader comments:

  1. wow that’s great that an old mining town! have been thru there before & its a beautiful place!

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:03am
  2. Daniel English

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:03am
  3. now if the state can get off the no pee for you law

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:04am
  4. A small.light of tolerance, in a sea of ignorance. But even so, civil unions are not EQUALITY!!

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:04am
  5. GOOD !!!! Who knew…..Bisbee is a trippy little city near Tombstone…..GOOD FOR BISBEE !!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:05am
  6. Well this entire page is full of idiots, same sex marriage is so stupid and so is everyone who supports it

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:05am
  7. for those commentors that hate gay people – you spend a lot of time reading gay sites – if you hate gay people there is plenty of other sites to read so leave us alone

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:07am
  8. Yey! My second home! I knew bisbee was the best!

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:09am
  9. So why are you lurking on it, you brainless, bigoted jackass?

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:09am
  10. Wonderful news…now for the rest of AZ…get rid of the governor!! She sux

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:09am
  11. I’m sorry I just can’t take anyone seriously that has a display picture of a narwhal with a monocle and a mustache.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:09am
  12. Are you people really so desperate now that you go out searching for gay news pages and gay rights sites just to troll (rather poorly, I might add)? Get a life. Turn off FOX News and The 700 Club, step out your tin foil-lined basement, and get a life.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:11am
  13. @Billingsworth,idiots?iincluding you,your mother,father,auntie,wife,friends …..

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:12am
  14. OMG, that will slap the AZ Governor on the face.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:12am
  15. If marriage is about commitment based in love and caring for each other, then how is it only about some people and not about all people, William Billingsworth?

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:13am
  16. One step at a time. Good things come to those who are patient.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:15am
  17. In many cases, the HATERS refuse to accept same-sex MARRIAGE,and will ONLY accept civil.unions for the LGBTQ community.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:20am
  18. O no u guys are gonna hurt my feelings, like I care what a bunch of fags think

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:22am
  19. I can not believe it is 2013 and we still have this as a issue. If the government put this much effort in education people would be educated enough to know it isn’t anyone’s business who people decide to marry, or the fact that it is the right as free ppl do marry and be with whom ever they want

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:23am
  20. baby steps

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:43am
  21. guess some people think it is better to let opposite sex only get married – then have kids they abuse and not really want – at least with gay people you have to actually want kids to get kids

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:50am
  22. Tom Horne is the problem!

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:55am
  23. Like it or not, Gay people will get treated equally by the government of USA. if u wanna still be an ignorant bigot, you can still go to the church u know. We will win to people like u!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:59am
  24. Hey, when a hater troll starts in on us, just report ‘em to Facebook. There’s a difference between free speech and hate speech.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 2:00am
  25. Gay people are just that People and even more basic then that they are Americans and entitled to the same rights as the rest of us And it is none of any ones concern who they marry or who they don,t marry. I have a lot of gay friends and family members. Lets all put this issue to bed and Move on, enough is enough all ready, Gay people are not going any place so one might as well get in behind them and accept it if you DON,T Like Gay folks then I say go live in a BUBBLE.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 2:52am
  26. I love this! I’ve visited Bisbee several times. Great place, now even better.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 3:07am
  27. Hey William get off this page…..and don’t complain about your religious freedom to bitch on here….I see enough of your type on the news…..

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 5:18am
  28. The against marriage equality debate last night on Irish television show “Prime Time”, was hilariously funny hinging their entire argument on ‘children’. First of all as a proud gay man I can say that I was born gay and that it wasn’t and isn’t and never will be a choice and I would not want it to be. Society made me feel initially ashamed through the religious values that were imposed on me and up until the age of 25 I battled with essentially being me. No person gay or straight, bi or transgender-ed should have to battle with the basic proponents of being themselves. I am a loving father and being gay has no bearing on the parent I am. To be told last night that the answer isn’t about adults and that the answer is about children and that the sole purpose of marriage centres on what is ideal for children (a loving biological mother and father) is implicit in its underlying design to denigrate and devalue gay human relationships. Gay people are equally as capable of bringing up children in a loving home and for providing for their physiological, safety, emotional and educational needs. People are people which is the fundamental and children should not be used as a calling card in opposing the love that two consenting adults have for each other. The existing partnership law denies LGBT parents and their children adequate legal rights pertaining to medical and educational matters or the children of LGBT unions to have an automatic right to inherit from their parents. The Pro marriage equality side rightly pointed out that as citizens who pay taxes and obey the law and do what is expected of us, that it is unacceptable going forward that we be denied these basic citizenship rights. If a biological parent dies the child may be taken away from its other parent who under the current law would not be recognised as their parent. This is what the real disgrace is because this is discrimination in all its glory and even if we were allowed all the same rights under civil partnership; denying the LGBT community full marriage rights still amounts to marginalising the gay community. We are talking about CIVIL marriage here, not religious marriage and for civil marriage to be regulated by the State. For that idiot to refer to our relationships as friendships is beyond insulting and frankly beggars belief.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 5:29am
  29. Its been shown that alot of gay couples who adopt children actually end hpbraising children much better and in far more loving, and open minded homes thatn traditional couples.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 5:55am
  30. William, your hate clearly shows with your comments. I reported you for hate speech and trolling.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 6:01am
  31. Obviously, he’s a closeted, self-loathing gay man….

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 6:02am
  32. and he’s not even American….who cares what he thinks on this issue…

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 6:03am
  33. St . Pete Florida has it also -thank god!

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 6:05am
  34. Forget trolls like William. Here is a real problem. The AZ Taliban: http://www.azpolicy.org/
    The AZ GOP has allowed them to have too much power in our state. It’s a dangerous slippery slope…

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 6:07am
  35. me too

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 6:09am
  36. Gosh, maybe the town thinks this will benefit the town?

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 6:45am
  37. YAAAAAAAAAY BISBEE!!! TRAVEL HERE SEVERAL TIMES A WEEK…BEAUTIFUL LITTLE TOWN WITH SOME VERY BEAUTIFUL, UNIQUE, AND FRIENDLY PEOPLE…I LOVE IT!

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 6:46am
  38. now if face book can learn what hate speech is – they seem to think going on a gay site and insulting people is not hate speech – get with reality you oh face book gods

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 6:49am
  39. that is good but we need marriage equality to be in all 50 states

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 8:40am
  40. Wow. Arizona. Wow.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 8:48am
  41. We love you Bisbee!

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 11:02am
  42. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moGFk5CRm8o Same Love Official Macklemore – Cover !! spead the word. this rap song is beyond inspiring , it means a lot ! #LGBTSupporter !!

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:24pm