The city council in Bisbee, Arizona voted 5-2 Tuesday to approve civil unions for same-sex couples. Bisbee is a former mining town that has now become an artist’s haven of about 5,600 people. Same-sex couples there will now be able to go to City Hall, pay $76 (the same cost of a marriage license in the outlying county), and receive a civil union.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has said the ordinance would be unconstitutional, promising his office would challenge it in court. However, the courts would have an interesting precedent with which to make that decision. In 2006, Arizona voters rejected Proposition 107, which would have banned same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships. Though they did pass Proposition 102 two years later, that provision only banned marriage and made no mention of civil unions. A court could easily conclude that civil unions are thus meant to be protected by the constitution.
Moreover, Bisbee City Attorney John MacKinnon made it clear the civil unions would only apply to policies within the city’s control, such as personnel policies and the city cemetery.