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Bisbee first AZ town to approve same-sex civil unions

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The Bisbee City Council chambers were packed with citizens Tuesday night as the City Council approved an ordinance that recognizes civil unions for same-sex couples. (Source: CBS 5 News) The Bisbee City Council chambers were packed with citizens Tuesday night as the City Council approved an ordinance that recognizes civil unions for same-sex couples. (Source: CBS 5 News)
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BISBEE, AZ (CBS5/AP) -

City council members in the southern Arizona town of Bisbee have passed an ordinance that recognizes civil unions for same-sex couples, giving the couples the same rights as married couples, but they might need to gird for a fight with the state.

The Sierra Vista Herald reported that Tuesday night's 5-2 vote in the former mining community-turned-artists' haven followed an emotional three-hour hearing that was attended by more than 100 people.

The vote makes Bisbee the first Arizona city to legalize civil unions, although the state's attorney general has promised to go to court to block the ordinance.

Attorney General Tom Horne on Tuesday issued a statement that he had warned the Bisbee city attorney and city council members that if the ordinance passed, he would "initiate a special action in the courts to enjoin it."

Horne maintains the city does not have the authority to pass the ordinance that he claims would change seven state statutes.

City Attorney John MacKinnon said the ordinance's impact would only apply to things within the city's control. He said those would include city personnel policies and the city cemetery.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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