- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 3, 2013

State law may not allow for same-sex marriages, but city council members in Bisbee, Ariz., couldn’t care less.

The small southeastern Arizona town passed with a 5-2 vote a measure to legalize gay civil unions on Tuesday evening during a contentious council meeting, according to Reuters. Come next month, same-sex couples residing in the town can pay $76 for a civil union certificate and live as they’re married.

The council’s vote came despite the warnings of Attorney General Tom Horne, who vowed legal action if the ordinance was passed. City attorney John MacKinnon told council members, however, that Mr. Horne didn’t have a “real case” and to vote as desired, Reuters reported.

State law bans same-sex marriages, but loopholes allowing for local governments’ gay marriage ordinances are unclear and untested. In 2006, voters in Arizona shot down legislation that would have prevented city governments from passing laws to let gay marriage go forth.

The 2006 statewide vote does not necessarily translate into allowances for cities to decide the gay marriage issue on an independent basis, legal analysts argue.

Mr. MacKinnon said Bisbee isn’t out change state law.

“In a limited capacity, the city of Bisbee is able to act and will do what it can within the areas that city controls,” Mr. MacKinnon said, according to the Arizona Republic.

Reuters reports that the ordinance — valid only within city limits — covers benefits, hospital visitation rights and family pass discounts to the city’s swimming pool.

The former copper mining town of 5,600 became known in the 1970s as a “liberal oasis in a conservative desert,” as a popular bumper sticker in the town touts.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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