Arizona made headlines recently when the town of Bisbee proposed an ordinance legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples in order to give them some of the rights that married couples enjoy. This ordinance stood in direct juxtaposition to the state ban on same-sex marriages that was passed by Arizona voters in 2008.
This recent development is a prime example of how family law is evolving across the country to address the needs of same-sex couples. Although the country still remains divided on the issue of marriage for same-sex couples, a majority of Americans believe that same-sex couples should be permitted to form civil unions to enjoy most of the benefits of traditional marriages.
However, the council recently voted to take out certain controversial aspects of the ordinance so that it would not be the subject of a lawsuit by the state Attorney General. The re-written ordinance does not include provisions regarding community property, inheritances, appointment of guardians and disposition of the remains of a deceased domestic partner after death. The revised ordinance should be ready for a vote in June.
According to reports, other towns and cities in Arizona have been inquiring about how to pass similar legislation in their towns. The town of Bisbee hopes to be a model for other cities in Arizona and across the country.
Many political commentators believe that a sea change is occurring across the country with respect to this divisive issue. The Supreme Court is expected to issue to important decisions this summer regarding the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and the proposition banning same-ex marriage in California. These decisions may have a tremendous impact on the future of family law in the state of Arizona and across the country.
Source: Reuters, “ Bisbee pulls ordinance on civil unions” Geoff Williams and Beth Pinsker, April 13, 2013