The Main Stream

Jul 5, 2013 7:40 PM by Erika Flores

Historic day for Bisbee: first couple registers civil union

BISBEE - It was a historic day in Bisbee Friday with its civil union ordinance taking effect.

Bisbee's the first town in Arizona to recognize same-sex couples giving them rights similar to married couples including healthcare, visitation and inheritance.

The ordinance describes civil unions as a contractual agreement not a marriage between spouses.

Critics threatened to recall the mayor and other council members who voted for it, but the City of Bisbee said no application for the recall has been turned in as of yet.

Regardless, the city pushed through, and Friday was the first day same-sex couples could register their civil unions.

The first couple was there to register their civil union with the city of Bisbee when the city hall doors opened at 8 a.m.

It was a historic moment as Deborah Grier and Kathy Sowden became the first couple in Bisbee to register a civil union.

"It feels kind of neat. It's a step," said Sowden.

"Very exciting for me," said Grier.

They're glad opposition didn't stop this day.

Grier and Sowden have been together for 21 years.

They own property and a business.

"Everything we do we have to be concerned about if something happens to one of us," said Sowden.

They aren't legally married.

Arizona's law describes marriage as a union between a man and a woman, so this ordinance is a contractual agreement not a marriage between spouses.

The agreement gives them rights such as health care visitation and inheritance.

"We have medical durable power of attorney and all that stuff, but it's not enough," they said. "If we were in an accident in Minnesota, how would they know that we have durable power of attorney in Arizona?"

They hope to see a day where their rights are recognized everywhere.

"It would be nice if it progressed further where it would just be like everybody else. That would be great," said Sowden.

Grier and Sowden said they don't plan on having a ceremony for themselves to celebrate the union anytime soon until civil unions are recognized across the country.

Civil unions can be registered at Bisbee's city hall through the city clerk's office Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

There's a $75 application fee and photo ID's are required.

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