Arizona Town of Bisbee Plans to Recognize Same-Sex Civil Unions

A southern Arizona town is taking civil union legislation up on its own, the L.A. Times reports:

BisbeeTuesday evening, Bisbee City Council members voted to allow the next best thing to gay marriage. In a first reading of an ordinance, adding a chapter to its city charter, they cleared the way for civil unions. The vote by the seven-member council was unanimous, making it likely to pass on a final vote scheduled in two weeks.

 “I think it’s time,” Mayor Adriana Zavala Badal said of the proposal. “We’ve been working on this as a country for a long time.”

The ordinance, which allows for a form of union regardless of the sexual orientation of the couple, would be effective only within Bisbee and affect certain benefits and policies within the city. Bisbee, situated along the U.S.-Mexico border, has about 5,600 residents.

The civil union certificate would provide city benefits an unwed couple, such as disability or compensation for the partners of city workers and other benefits such as family discounts at the city pool. Currently, partners don’t qualify.

What will the State of Arizona do about the town's actions?

It’s unclear whether state officials will challenge Bisbee’s proposed ordinance if it passes a final vote.

Although the Arizona Constitution defines a marriage between a man and a woman, it doesn’t appear to forbid same-sex civil unions, said Jack Tweedie, director of children and families program at the National Conference of State Legislatures.