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Arizona City Passes Civil Unions, May Violate State Constitution



It was Winston Churchill who famously said something about fighting in the trenches. Perhaps oddly enough, the battle over same-sex marriage will not be state by state, but city by city. The City Council in the former mining community-turned-artist’s haven of Bisbee, Arizona has passed an ordinance legalizing civil unions in the city. The measure, which passed 5 to 2, conflicts with the Arizona state constitution which bans same-sex marriage.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne stated that he would go to court to block enforcement of the measure.

The city has a population of about 5,600, and the ordinance reads that the city council wishes to end “discriminatory practices against members of the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community.” The measure would allow same-sex couples to go to City Hall, pay $76 and enter into a civil union.

The civil unions
would only apply to things within the city’s control, according to Bisbee City Attorney John MacKinnon. This will extend to city personnel policies and the city cemetery. He stated that “We can’t as a small jurisdiction in southeastern Arizona change everything in Arizona.”

With regards to the court challenge, that may be up to what the Arizona legal amendment states. A conservative Christian group stated that the ordinance was in violation of the state’s constitution, and that it was an attempt to end run the state’s marriage laws; however, MacKinnon responded that he thinks the group is confusing civil unions with marriage and that he doesn’t think that it is in violation of the state’s constitution.



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