BISBEE, Ariz. — Deborah Grier and Kathy Sowden celebrated an historic day in Bisbee, Ariz., on Friday, becoming the first same-sex couple in Arizona to register in a civil union.
Bisbee’s is the first town in Arizona to recognize same-sex relationships by allowing couples to enter into a civil union that gives them rights similar to married couples in the areas of healthcare, visitation and inheritance.
The ordinance, approved by the town council on June 4, came into effect Friday and describes civil unions as a contractual agreement not a marriage between spouses.
Grier and Sowden, who have been together for 21 years, were the first couple to register their civil union with the town when city hall opened at 8 a.m.
They said the hope to see a day where their rights are recognized everywhere.
“It would be nice if it progressed further where it would just be like everybody else. That would be great,” said Sowden.
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Under the ordinance, people in 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.
On June 19, the Tucson city council approved a similar ordinance to allow civil unions between same-sex couples; that measure takes effect later this month.
Several other Arizona cities, including Tempe, have said they are considering similar civil union ordinances.