Bisbee, Arizona on Tuesday became the
state's first city to legalize civil unions for gay and lesbian
According to the Sierra
Vista Herald, the Bisbee City Council approved the ordinance
with a 5-2 vote after holding an emotional three-hour hearing
attended by more than 100 people.
The former mining
community-turned-artist's haven is made up of about 5,600 people.
Voters in 2008 approved a
constitutional amendment defining marriage as a heterosexual union.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne
warned that the ordinance would be unconstitutional and promised to
go to court to block its start.
“The only proper way to change a
statute is through the Legislature, not through actions of the City
Council attempting to change a State statute within its boundaries,”
Horne wrote in a letter to the city. “I emphasize that I am not
expressing any opinion on the policy of the ordinance. My job is to
enforce the laws that exist and I am obligated to respond to
complaints from state legislators.”
The conservative advocacy group the
Center for Arizona Policy has also threatened to sue the city if it
allows civil unions.
Bisbee City Attorney John MacKinnon
said he would defend the new ordinance at no charge to the city.
Bisbee resident and retired attorney Margo McCartney also offered her
The unions would be recognized only
within Bisbee's city limits.