Bisbee could approve civil unions for same-sex couples

BISBEE, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It's a controversial issue and a small Southern Arizona town is making national headlines for progress it has made on marriage equality. City council members in Bisbee are coming as close as they can to approving same-sex marriage.

In a town of about 5,500 people, Bisbee has its own rhythm.

"I knew that I moved to this town for a reason," Jennifer Garland who moved from North Carolina said. "This town really is very accepting, loving."

Many are not surprised the city council is making headway on marriage equality. Council members this week unanimously endorsed a measure to "...lessen the impact of discriminatory practices upon all citizens" by allowing same sex couples to enter a civil union. Council members will vote on April 2nd and if passed, couples could start getting civil union certificates in early May.

Garland says she came out as gay in her late 20's. She and her partner have been together more than a decade and she says gay couples deserve the same rights as everyone else.

"Health issues and hospitals and having a home together," Garland said.

If passed, same-sex couples in Bisbee, like married couples, could visit each other in the hospital, and choose where their partner is buried, among other rights.

"The biggest thing I think is the message we're sending," Adriana Badal, the city's mayor said. "It's about time all of us are treated equally and given the same opportunities."

Opportunities also being considered by the Supreme Court. Next week, justices will hear arguments on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.

But not everyone in Bisbee is supportive of the idea.

"Unnatural, a civil union," said a Bisbee man who only want to be identified as Joe. "A man and a man or woman and woman, just doesn't seem like, they can't produce offspring."

"We are very progressive in Bisbee," Badal said. "We are sometimes accused of being too progressive. I have a couple of council members that are concerned I'm moving too quickly too soon."

But in this laid-back town, things are moving quickly and the spotlight is shining on this old mining town.