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Meet The Couple Who Entered into Arizona's First Civil Union

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Kathy Sowden and Deborah Grier have been together for 21 years, and now they share Arizona's very first civil union, as KGUN9 reports:

Sometime small steps in small towns lead to big changes. In Bisbee, Kathy Sowden and Deborah Grier went to Bisbee City Hall to file the papers to recognize their 21 year relationship as a formal civil union.

The documents spell out how they want to handle some of the privileges that come with marriage like the ability to make medical decisions for each other.

Bisbee's City attorney says because the city wrote the documents like a contract between two people, Bisbee's civil union carries legal weight outside Bisbee and throughout the US.

As we reported in early April, the Bisbee City Council voted 5-2 to approve a civil unions bill for same-sex couples, making it the first jurisdiction in the city to do so.  The following month, the council approved an amended version of the provision in the face of a threatened lawsuit by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne alleging the civil unions legislation conflicted with state law.  The revised measure explicitly stated that "the city of Bisbee makes no warranty or guarantee regarding the legality or enforceability of any agreements or nominations of the parties."

Last month, the Tuscon City Council unanimously approved its own civil unions bill.  Previously, the city had offered a domestic partnership registry that offered limited rights, such as hospital visitation privileges.  The new civil unions law provides couples with inheritence rights and power of attorney and allows them to establish living wills for each other.

Bisbee, Arizona Gay Man Declares 'I am Not an Abomination'; State Will Sue to Block Civil Unions: VIDEO


Yesterday I reported that the tiny Arizona town of Bisbee had approved civil unions. Here's a video (via jmg) of the meeting leading up to the City Council's 5-2 vote to recognize them. In the video, several people get up and declare homosexuality an abomination, except for one couple.

Says one of the couple in a statement:

"I just have to clarify. I am not an abomination. The love that we share together and the life that we have built together is not an abomination. It's strange to have to say that. It's strange to be up here asking all of you that are married - you all have more rights than I do, and you'll have more rights even if this passes...It does feel strange to be up here begging for something that's so little...I really just want the same rights that all of you have right now and I want all the same rights that my parents have...This isn't an abstract issue of gay marriage. This is us. We're a couple. And we love each other. And we would like you to please unanimously vote to give us just a sliver of the rights that you have."



And yesterday, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced he will take the city to court to block the decision, the Star reports:

Horne spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham says the planned lawsuit will be filed before the ordinance approved Tuesday night by the Bisbee City Council takes effect in 30 days.

The council approved the ordinance after three hours of testimony by residents of the former mining town in mostly rural southeastern Arizona.

Horne says he's not taking a policy stance against civil unions by planning to sue. He says the council acted outside its legal authority because state laws control things such as community property.


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