Tempe City Council may consider civil unions ordinance next month

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Tempe may be just weeks away from considering a civil unions ordinance in Council Chambers, according to Councilman Kolby Granville.

In early April, Granville started the process of looking into what it would take to write a legal civil unions ordinance for Tempe. While City Council timelines are always subject to change, he said the issue could be on an agenda for public comment as early as the middle of May.

He said over the past few weeks the city attorney has done her homework researching what abilities the city has in granting civil unions to Tempe's LGBT community. They want to avoid any legal wrangling, and the councilman said they're just being thorough.

"I wouldn't want to put something forward, pass it and then spend a certain amount of money on legal fees, get it all the way to the Arizona Supreme Court, and have the court say, 'Look, if you'd have said should instead of shall, we'd have been fine with it!'" he said. "I'd much rather do it once and do it right."

Granville said he's heard from those praising his efforts to consider this issue and also from those who feel it's not a city's job to take this on, or who are against the idea for many reasons.

In Tempe, we spoke with a woman who said she's just glad there's even a conversation happening about civil unions. Madelaine Adelman is a professor with Arizona State University and works with students who've seen a lot of movement on this issue in a short amount of time.

"In their lifetime, they have seen people commit to making legal changes and social changes around marriage equality for same-sex couples," she said. "So, I live here in Arizona and I want our community to be part of that, that tidal wave of change."

There is a lot of ground to cover before any actual change happens. Should the issue be discussed there's public comment and several more hoops to jump through before it's put up for a vote by City Council. We'll continue to follow it.