Phoenix, AZ (Wednesday, April 17, 2013) - Attorney General Tom Horne has invited city attorneys to a discussion of how civil unions can be done in a legal way, and what is illegal. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 29 at 2:00 PM, with a press conference to follow at 3:15 PM.
“I have publically stated on several occasions that I am not expressing any opinion for or against civil unions,” said Attorney General Tom Horne. “For example, Phoenix has a civil ordinance that establishes a registry for hospital visitation and does not violate state law, and this office has no problem with it. But the Bisbee Ordinance as originally passed tries to change seven separate state statutes, and a municipality does not have the authority to do that.”
One of the problems with the Bisbee Ordinance as originally passed is that it could unintentionally mislead individuals. For example, individuals could rely on the Bisbee Ordinance, believing that they have community property, with the expectation that if one of them dies, the other would inherit. But a state court would not enforce the Bisbee Ordinance, where it is contrary to state law. As a result, the person would not inherit. In the absence of the ordinance, individuals would take actions, such as with wills and contracts, that would protect their interests, and the ordinance could mislead them into failing to take those actions.
The purpose of the meeting would be to guide city attorneys as to what actions they could take, in the nature of civil unions, that would not violate state law, and that would avoid lawsuits from the Attorney General’s Office.
A copy of the letter to the Arizona City Attorneys Association, inviting any city attorneys who are interested to come to a meeting, is attached. A media advisory will be sent out prior to the press conference with details on time, location and those in attendance.