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Old Arizona mining town approves civil unions

The Bisbee, Ariz., City Council on April 2 approved an ordinance to recognize civil unions for same-sex couples. The vote was 5-2 and came after a three-hour hearing.

Bisbee is the only city in the state where civil unions are considered legal – at least for now. The state attorney general has said the ordinance the council approved is unconstitutional and the state block implementation.

The ordinance states that the city – an old mining town that's now a haven for artists – wants to end  "discriminatory practices against members of the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community" and affirm their relationships.

Under the ordinance, same-sex couples can pay $76 at city hall – the price of a marriage license in the county – and receive a certificate for a civil union.

The certificate would not bring any state or federal benefits but would result in couples accessing local benefits that are afforded married couples.

About 100 people attended the meeting.

The U.S. Census reports that about 6,177 people live in Bisbee, which was founded as a gold, copper and silver mining town in 1880.

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