Tempe to debate joining Bisbee with civil unions ordinance

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

OK, I thought the City of Tucson and/or Flagstaff would be the first to take up my challenge to lock arms with the city of Bisbee in enacting a civil unions ordinace to stick a finger in the eye of Mullah Cathi Herrod and her Christian Taliban at the Center for Arizona Policy and the self righteous Tom "banned for life by the SEC" Horne, but it appears that the city of Tempe will take up the challenge first. I tip my hat to you for stepping up to the plate to defend civil rights. Tempe to begin discussion on civil-union laws:

EqualTempe, a historically progressive city, is poised to become embroiled in the debate over equal rights for same-sex couples.

Today, the Tempe City Council will discuss civil-union laws in its private executive session. The discussion comes two days after residents of Bisbee watched their council approve a historic vote to legalize civil-union certificates, which provide same-sex partners with some of the same rights as married couples.

Tempe Councilman Kolby Granville called the Bisbee vote momentous. On Wednesday, Granville, a Democrat, told The Arizona Republic that he asked for the council executive session on civil unions. He wants Tempe to be the first Valley city to approve civil-union certificates for its residents.

If approved, the legal rights would apply to an estimated 165,000 Tempe residents compared with 5,600 or so in Bisbee.

“Tempe tends to be a leader in issues of civil rights,” Granville said. “And, to me, equality based on sexual orientation is one of those very same civil rights.”

Granville pointed to Tempe’s move in 1999 to become one of the first Arizona cities to approve health-care benefits for domestic partners, which the city generally defines as unmarried couples of the same or opposite sex.

Granville said he wants input from fellow council members and counsel from interim City Attorney Judi Baumann on the legalities of offering such rights to Tempe’s residents.

But Granville stressed that, regardless of where the council stands on the issue, he will place language that mirrors Bisbee’s ordinance on a Tempe City Council agenda in the next two to four weeks.

* * *

When asked about his motivations behind a push for civil unions despite the pending legal threat, Granville defended his position as a fight for equality.

“That would be like asking somebody in the 1950s why they would put something on the agenda that changed the rules for white people and black people not being able to get married,” he said. “It’s like putting on the agenda that we should abolish slavery. History is on my side on this one, or it certainly will be.”

Granville said he is “straight” but considers himself a gay-rights ally.

He would prefer that gay Arizonans have the right to marry but, given the state’s ban on same-sex marriages, he said civil unions are the next best thing.

Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell and council members Corey Woods and Joel Navarro, all registered Democrats, told the Republic on Wednesday that they support gay marriage. The three said that before taking a stance on civil unions in Tempe, they want to understand the legal implications.

“I’m waiting to see legally what we can do…(and) if Tempe has a role in this,” Mitchell said.

* * *

Granville said he would not be dissuaded by Horne’s legal threats.

“Actually, I’d be more inclined (if Horne follows through on suing municipalities that approve civil unions)….we could share the legal costs with the other cities,” Granville said, adding that he thinks Tucson and Flagstaff will be the next Arizona municipal governments to consider civil unions for their residents.

This train is leaving . . . it's time to climb aboard Tucson and Flagstaff.

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