Bisbee passes civil unions ordinance . . . city not destroyed by fire and brimstone

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

I guess God doesn't hate gays after all, it's just the self-righteous Christian Taliban. Bisbee passed its civil unions ordinance last night, and the city was not destroyed by fire and brimstone as Mullah Cathi Herrod and her Christian Taliban at the Center for Arizona Policy prophesied. Maybe people should stop listening to these false prophets. Bisbee legalizes civil unions, pushes aside AG's legal warnings:

EqualIgnoring vociferous opposition and threats of lawsuits, the small southeastern Arizona city of Bisbee legalized civil unions for same-sex couples Tuesday night in an historic council vote that turned into a political circus, as nearly 100 people packed the chambers in both opposition and support.

The City Council pushed aside legal warnings from the state’s attorney general and a conservative advocacy group and voted 5-2 to become first city in the state to offer civil-union certificates for all couples that would extend to same-sex partners some of the same rights as married couples within the Bisbee boundaries.

The ordinance, which goes into effect in 30 days, would cover joint property ownership, property inheritance, guardianship and adoption rights.

For three hours, the seven-member council, which was caught off-guard by the fervor over the proposal, listened as one after another, impassioned opponents and supporters voiced their opinions. Many spoke against the ordinance, some decrying the move as being against “God’s law.” [Hmmm, they presume to speak for God? That is what the commandment "thou shalt not take God's name in vain" prohibits.]

City Attorney John MacKinnon defended the move, saying the civil-union ordinance “does not change state laws” and that the state had no legal standing to fight it.

Arizona voters in 2008 approved a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriages. However, two years earlier, voters rejected a broader version that would have barred the state and local governments from creating or recognizing “a legal status for unmarried persons that is similar to marriage.”

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[J]just hours before the meeting, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, at the urging of state lawmakers from Cochise County, sent a letter warning Bisbee that his office would take legal action against the city if council members approved the ordinance.

Horne said Bisbee does not have the authority to offer civil unions and that “the impact goes beyond (city) boundaries.”

MacKinnon, referring to Horne and the state, said: “They chose to interpret it broadly. We believe this was a desire to make a political statement.”

MacKinnon said he was proud to bring the issue to the council. “I think for too long many of us have been silent while we have witnessed discrimination against some in this community,” he said. “It’s time to stand up.”

MacKinnon said he does not believe Horne or the conservative Center for Arizona Policy has a legal argument, adding that he would defend any lawsuits.

“We are not trying to change the laws of Arizona,” he said. “In a limited capacity, the city of Bisbee is able to act and will do what it can within the areas that city controls.”

He said the civil union would enable city employees to seek benefits for partners and be recognized in other areas the city controls.

“We are not doing what Attorney General Tom Horne accuses us of,” he said. “This is limited action within the scope of the city’s jurisdiction. I’m not seeing an issue that really poses a threat to Arizona or anything the attorney general has authority over.”

Other Arizona cities should follow the example of Bisbee. Tucson and Flagstaff are likely candidates. A coalition of civil rights groups should get together and begin work now on an initiative to repeal Prop. 102 (1998) to remove the stain of state-sanctioned discrimination from the Arizona Constitution.

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