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Arizona mining town advances revised civil unions measure

Arizona mining town advances revised civil unions measure

BISBEE, Ariz. — The Bisbee, Ariz., city council is moving forward with a revised version of an ordinance that would legalize civil unions for same-sex couples.

The council voted 5-2 Tuesday night to formally propose a scaled-back version of the ordinance. That sets the stage for a June 4 vote by the council on whether to approve the measure.

Bisbee, Ariz.
Council members on April 2 approved an earlier version of the measure that sought to give people in civil unions the same benefits as those in marriages.

But city officials decided to rewrite the measure after Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne threatened to sue over provisions that Horne said were in conflict with state law or went beyond the city’s authority.

The council postponed implementation of the original ordinance. The new version still sets forth a process for Bisbee to recognize civil unions but describes those as contractual agreements.

A line in the original ordinance is omitted tha t said couples in a civil union have the same responsibilities and benefits as married couples.

Under the new version, people entered into civil unions recognized only within the city of Bisbee could file contractual statements spelling out their agreed-upon “rights, obligations and expectations” in matters such as inheritances, property ownership and children.

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For itself, the city said it would recognize civil unions in connection with employee benefits and city activities such as cemetery operations.

The ordinance retains policy statements saying the city supports efforts to combat discrimination against gay and lesbian couples.

Citing state laws on such things as property ownership, Horne has said people entering into Bisbee-recognized civil unions could have been misled about what rights they actually had under the original ordinance.

Several Arizona cities, including Tempe, have said they are considering similar civil union ordinances.

Horne spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said Wednesday that Horne “is fine” with the revised ordinance, believing it addresses his concerns.

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