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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 21, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 25
Tucson approves civil unions
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Tucson approves civil unions

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

In a unanimous vote, Tucson's City Council approved an ordinance on June 18 allowing same-sex couples to form domestic partnerships and civil unions. Tucson is the second Arizona city, after Bisbee, to recognize civil unions.

Ordinance sponsor Karin Uhlich said that Tucson should do everything it can to increase rights for same-sex couples if the state and federal governments fail to do so.

'This was an important step for us to take, and we're going to keep seeking steps to reinforce nondiscrimination,' Uhlich said at the June 18 Council meeting.

'I think there's been widespread support throughout the community and people are really pleased to see it pass. I hope the Supreme Court rules in support of marriage equality and that the country starts to turn the corner on that form of discrimination.'

ONE SMALL STEP
Council member Paul Cunningham said that the ordinance is a small advance in the larger battle for complete marriage equality.

'This is so important for the youth who are just finding out that they are Gay or Lesbian,' said Cunningham. 'We're only halfway there.'

Gayle Brickert-Albrecht, co-chair of the Tucson Commission on GLBT Issues, said she was encouraged by the vote, even though the Arizona state government did not recognize her partner.

'Even in the reasonably progressive municipality of Tucson there are policies, environments, and situations which reduce the LGBT community to second-class citizens,' she said.

'As one-half of a domestic partnership, I am personally encouraged that in a state that doesn't recognize same-sex marriage nor grant second-parent adoptions to Gay and Lesbian parents, that if the city of Tucson will recognize my family, it may mitigate some of the hardships that we face every day,' she said.

MUCH WORK REMAINS
However, Brickert-Albrecht added that she does not want people to become too content with the small success. More progress needs to be made toward full equality, she said.

'It deepens the support of the city by adding some provisions for including additional documentation in your civil-union recognition, but it only goes so far,' she told the Arizona Daily Star.

'I would like to see same-sex unions legitimized the same way opposite-sex unions are legitimized. I think until that's available to everybody we still aren't there. As long as we're considered not a family and can't access the same benefits, rights, and opportunities, then there's a problem. Especially since the city of Tucson operates under an ordinance that says it doesn't discriminate.'

When Bisbee legalized civil unions, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne threatened to file suit to block the city from implementing the ordinance. According to Tucson City Attorney Mike Rankin, the state could not intervene against his city's ordinance as long as Tucson did not confer any rights on same-sex couples that state law reserves exclusively for married spouses.

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