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Arizona

Cottonwood latest Ariz. city to approve same-sex civil unions

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The City of Cottonwood has joined a handful of Arizona communities in approving civil unions.

The City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday in favor of an ordinance that would allow couples to enter into a legal, domestic partnership without regard to gender. Vice Mayor Karen Pfeifer cast the dissenting vote.

Cottonwood, Ariz.

Cottonwood, Ariz.

Cottonwood already prohibited discrimination among city employees based on sexual orientation. But the benefits afforded to city employees in domestic partnerships didn’t extend to all residents.

“It’s something communities are looking at to treat their citizens equally, and leadership (is) standing up and saying equality is important in our communities,” Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens said Wednesday. “I think it’s as simple as that.”

The ordinance that goes into effect in 30 days closely models one approved by Sedona. The provisions include a registration process, and couples can file a list of documents such as custody agreements and powers of attorney with the city if they wish. Those in civil unions with a city employee also would be on par with spouses when it comes to accessing employment benefits, such as health insurance.

Bisbee was the first in Arizona to approve civil unions, with Tucson, Jerome, Sedona and Clarkdale following.

Some residents of the Verde Valley cited religious beliefs in opposing Cottonwood’s ordinance, and business owners and a church pastor questioned whether they would be subject to a lawsuit for denying services to same-sex couples in a civil union. The city responded by saying that nothing in the ordinance would make a lawsuit more likely.

Members of the gay community focused on civil and human rights in their effort to get the ordinance approved. Shortly after the vote, the Sedona/Verde Valley Pride group posted this on its Facebook page: “BAM! And just like that! EQUALITY WINS.”

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“We’re a small town, and we’re supposed to be behind the time s,” said board member Dina Dantowiz. “But here we are pushing something forward before Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe.”

Republican state Rep. Bob Thorpe, of Flagstaff, questioned whether the ordinance was needed as a problem-solving mechanism and whether the city government should even consider it. He said the question should have been referred to voters.

“It is not the right of an elected city, county or state official to take it upon themselves to create new social institutions, or to redefine long established social institutions,” Thorpe wrote in a letter that was read at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

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39 more reader comments:

  1. <3

    Posted on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 11:46pm
  2. <3

    Posted on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 11:47pm
  3. <------me and my friends Jt Michaels are happy

    Posted on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 11:47pm
  4. I am so proud of my home town!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 11:48pm
  5. Congrats!

    Replied on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 1:11am
  6. Wonderful,congrats !!

    Replied on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 5:37am
  7. Well Go Arizona !!!! My home state of Kentucky …should be right there with ya… in about 20yrs

    Posted on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 11:50pm
  8. way before Then,...just watch. Becoming the law of the land. yeah.

    Replied on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 1:11am
  9. i do hope so.. you're probably right.. i was just being sarcastic.. ;) but more than likely in the next 5yrs?

    Replied on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 1:12am
  10. same with indiana.... might be 100 years for us though

    Replied on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 1:52am
  11. Oh wow!!! yay!

    Posted on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 11:53pm
  12. that is to cool , just may be AZ is not like Oklahoma

    Posted on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 11:54pm
  13. OMG SO HAPPY! Cottonwood has already been one of my favorite places in AZ! :D

    Posted on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 11:55pm
  14. Omaha Nebraska City council and Douglas County did something similar a couple weeks ago same sex couples I got married in other states that live in Douglas County can be on the same medical insurance

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:01am
  15. Civil unions?? Doesnt mean equality?

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:07am
  16. <3

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:12am
  17. Wow, progress in my birth state. There may be hope for AZ after all!

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:14am
  18. Yup and aside from being a VERY cool place, Jerome has some great B&B’s that are LGBT friendly, but then again the ENTIRE town of 300 or so, is just friendly period. Lived up in Cottonwood for about two years when I first moved West in 1996 and the folks are just great. Folks in Sedona are just weird, but I blame the Vortex’s for their behavior! LOL

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:15am
  19. ♥ progress

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:16am
  20. A step in the right direction but still not equal to marriage.

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:19am
  21. “Mile High Grill and Spirits” up in Jerome, AZ also is LGBT friendly and has some awesome food. Husband wanted some food when we were up there on a day trip and being the twisted, hippie that he was insisted we go in. Food was killer, service was great, and he had fun watching the Staff flirt with me. My husband was wrong like that! So, if you get up there, check them out!

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:20am
  22. I am ashamed of the state of Arizona, bunch of homophobic bastards that live here.

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:22am
  23. Me and my girlfriend used to live there… that’s awesome that Arizona passed. .. my home state Minnesota passed in 2012 and where I live “Iowa” passed sometime ago SWEET

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:22am
  24. Major steps for Arizona.

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:24am
  25. Please check out and go follow: http://fyeahgayparents.tumblr.com/ It’s a blog dedicated to lgbtq parents and their family (and vice versa). I am trying to start a place for more resources for our community. :)

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:30am
  26. Congrats Arizona! MAZEL TOV!!!!! xxoo

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:55am
  27. 1996 called. They want their civil unions back.

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 1:44am
  28. What about same sex marriages?

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 3:04am
  29. Go cotton wood!

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 3:30am
  30. Good for Cottonwood AZ – you are doing the right thing.

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 3:33am
  31. Thank you, society, for letting citizens live by their beliefs

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 4:39am
  32. Glad, Glad, Glad to hear it!

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 5:47am
  33. Voters in Arizona voted for a marriage ban in 2008. Cities In Arizona are fed up with Ultra right wings in the Phoenix metro area ruling the whole state. That’s why there looking for loopholes. Sad part Phoenix it self and few areas are not ultra crazy like the rest of the area

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 5:50am
  34. Wow the south might get there …… Louisiana is a long ways away from human rights more less same-sex rights….. :-( but congrats to all who live there :-)

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 6:08am
  35. Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 6:45am
  36. Yay. Finally good news coming out of AZ. A red state. Im surprised but hopeful now. Good for you AZ. I may have to stop boycotting you now. I guess ill be seeing you soon.

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 6:56am
  37. What about marriage?

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 7:05am
  38. Chicken shits! Go for full on marriage…all Americans deserve equal rights!

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 9:00am
  39. We’ll the Supreme Court is already ruled time to yes gay marriage

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:58pm