AG Horne warns Bisbee its civil union ordinance unconstitutional - Tucson News Now

AG Horne warns Bisbee its civil union ordinance is unconstitutional

Tom Horne Tom Horne
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne says he'll be forced to take Bisbee to court if the town's city council passes a same sex ordinance Tuesday night.

Horne fired off a letter to council members raising constitutionality questions about the proposed ordinance that would recognize civil unions for same-sex couples in the small  southern Arizona town.

Horne says he's not expressing any opinion on the policy of the ordinance but that it's all about the law, "and the law is that a city council doesn't have the power to change state statutes. There are seven state statutes named in the ordinance that they're changing and state statutes by definition of law apply state wide. A city can't pass an ordinance saying this statute will apply everywhere in the state but in our town."

Bisbee City Attorney John Mackinnon says the ordinance's impact would only apply to things within the city's control such as city personnel policies. Horne says it doesn't matter, "while it is our understanding that the City Council's intent is that the impact of the ordinance will be limited to the jurisdictional boundaries of the City of Bisbee, the impact goes beyond those boundaries."

Horne also says all three members of the legislature representing Bisbee have expressed deep concerns about the constitutionality of the ordinance.

According to Horne's office, the ordinance seeks to change seven separate state statutes within the boundaries of the city, dealing with issues such as community property, inheritance of property, and appointment of personal representatives.

Horne says the only proper way to change a statute is through the state legislature, not through actions of the city council attempting to change a state statute within its boundaries.

The ordinance would make Bisbee the first Arizona city to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples, giving them rights now enjoyed by married couples.

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