Ariz. AG warns Bisbee against civil union passage - New York News

Ariz. AG warns Bisbee against civil union passage

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BISBEE, Ariz. -

A battle is brewing between Arizona's top law enforcement official and officials in the town of Bisbee.

Attorney General Tom Horne is threatening to take that city to court if the council approves same sex civil unions.

Bisbee would be the first city in the state to try something like this, but Horne is vowing to not let that happen.

Tom Horne sent a letter to the city attorney in Bisbee. He basically told the town that if they pass this ordinance, they can expect a lawsuit. The council meeting there started at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

In what appeared to be a packed city council chambers, people spoke for and against the plan. The city's attorney is not backing down.

"It is time to stand up, it is time to be heard and not that Bisbee is able to change the rules on this, but Bisbee is able to be heard and can take a small step toward righting old wrongs," said John MacKinnon, Bisbee City Attorney.

The city of Bisbee wants to recognize civil unions in the town of about 5,500. But unlike other cities which have civil union type laws, the attorney general says Bisbee's ordinance goes way too far.

"They actually list the state statues that they are changing they don't have a right to do that because a state statute applied statewide," said Attorney General Tom Horne.

Tom Horne says issues like community property laws are statewide laws and the city doesn't have the power to change that -- even if it's just within the city limits.

"I want to make it clear I am not expressing any view on the policy. I am just enforcing the law. It is my job. If they want to change it go to the legislature."

The town's attorney has a different interpretation.

"I am not seeing a case for controversy here. I am not seeing an issue that poses a threat to the state of Arizona," said MacKinnon.

But Tom Horne has this warning to the city council.

"If they approve it then I will go to court. And that is my job. I am the chief law enforcement officer and that is my job to make sure the cities abide by the law. And if they violate the law then I have to go to court to put a stop to it."

So right now the council is still taking public comment on this topic. They have not voted yet. There appears to be a lot of people who want to speak so it may be a while before we have a decision.

Live streaming of the city council meeting: www.kbrp.org/bcc/

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