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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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12/18/2013 1:15:00 PM
Cottonwood Council approves civil union registry
Vyto Starinskas Photo/Associated Press
Supporters for civil unions for same-sex relationships applaud right after the Cottonwood City Council approved a civil unions ordinance on Tuesday, Dec. 17, in a packed council chambers in Cottonwood. Jerome, Sedona, Bisbee and Tucson have passed similar ordinances. The vote came after more than an hour of comments and discussion.
Vyto Starinskas Photo/Associated Press
Supporters for civil unions for same-sex relationships applaud right after the Cottonwood City Council approved a civil unions ordinance on Tuesday, Dec. 17, in a packed council chambers in Cottonwood. Jerome, Sedona, Bisbee and Tucson have passed similar ordinances. The vote came after more than an hour of comments and discussion.
Vyto Starinskas Photo/Associated Press
JoEllin Dahlin speaks in support of civil unions for same-sex relationships at the Cottonwood City Council meeting Tuesday, Dec. 17.
Vyto Starinskas Photo/Associated Press
JoEllin Dahlin speaks in support of civil unions for same-sex relationships at the Cottonwood City Council meeting Tuesday, Dec. 17.

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter


COTTONWOOD -- If the Cottonwood Council chambers was "packed' for the first reading of a civil unions provision ordinance Dec. 3, the house was "jam-packed' Tuesday for the final reading. People were standing in the aisles or sitting on the floor, waiting to speak.

After an hour and a half of speeches, Ordinance 604 was approved by a 6-1 vote. Councilwoman Karen Pfeifer, who earlier signaled that she would vote support for those who opposed the ordinance, was the lone vote against the code amendment.

Pfeifer said, "We also have the right to respectfully disagree. It doesn't mean anyone is prejudiced."

Unlike the Dec. 3 meeting when the audience was overwhelmingly against the code change, civil unions and homosexuality and often cited biblical scripture, the Tuesday meeting to adopt the code change was overwhelmingly in favor of a civil union registry. Eighteen people spoke in favor of civil unions, while seven spoke against.

Councilmember Terence Pratt set the stage for the public comment by citing Thomas Jefferson in urging people to avoid mixing religion with a state government action:

"Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the 'wall of separation between church and state,' therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society."

Mayor Diane Joens, warned the large crowd that it could be an all-night session if every speaker was allowed the usual five minutes. She asked for a show of hands if people would agree to limiting comments to three minutes and the crowd agreed. The only conflict was when one woman distributed stacked up documentation apparently intended to show how wrong same-sex relationships could be, referring to such groups as the North American Man Boy Love Association. She told the councilmember that they were "being used" by these groups.

Supporters of the code repeated said it "is not a religious issue but a civil rights issue."

The mother of a gay son, Susan Hughes said she is an "advocate for equal rights, not special rights."

"My God loves me. I am gay," said Rachel Sappington.

"Any fears of this ordinance are based on ignorance," insisted Greg Luckey. His partner Marc Luckey said his parents discriminated against him and he has not been invited home in 30 years.

On the other hand Charles Barrett says he lives with his partner Randy Ayers and "Our families love us. Not everyone in the LBGT community is so open. That is why recognition is so important."

Joellin Dahlin was in tears at the podium, saying "Discrimination is criminal. The ignorance scares me."

Rose Sperry said she is the one who contacted District 6 State Rep. Bob Thorpe, who sent a letter to the council warning the code change could place Cottonwood in conflict with State Statute.

After the vote, Mayor Joens, who, at the beginning of the public meeting had asked that no one applaud speakers, said that everyone should applaud for giving others respect.



Taylor Waste
Related Stories:
• Editorial: Civil union debate now takes center stage in Camp Verde
• Guest Editorial: Is city council treating civil union partners equally, or special?
• Rep. Thorpe weighs in on Cottonwood civil unions
• Civil unions pass unanimously in Clarkdale
• Sedona Council considers protecting same-sex couples
• Jerome approves civil unions


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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, December 20, 2013
Article comment by: For all the folks worried about litigation -

Certainly that litigation could have taken place without the ordinance and clearly the ordinance does not support additional litigation.

At the same time why would any persons of the lgbtq community bother to give you their business when there are plenty of other sane and open minded folks that can provide the same service without having to pluck the speck from the eye of the potential customer while ignoring the plank in their own?

Atleast we had a honey moon period where the lack of comments -was- heartening, but obviously that only lasts so long.

No matter now though- let those who comprehend logic and reason celebrate a small victory in the path to being afforded the equality that others take for granted.

And look the sun still rises and sets with no plagues or locusts!




Posted: Friday, December 20, 2013
Article comment by: Notice Clarkdale's First Civil Union!

Please take a moment to notice that Clarkdale's first Civil Union was between a man and a woman. This new ordinance will be of great help to older couples who for financial and love reasons choose not to marry but be recognized, particularly for health care.

I hope that in a few months, most folks will have forgotten all the hullabaloo over this and move on to something else....Maybe something positive for them!


Posted: Friday, December 20, 2013
Article comment by: miss informed

I fail to see the relevance of a quote by archbishop Fulton J Sheen of the Roman Catholic church. The Roman Catholic church is reprehensible for it's continued denial of pedophile activities by priests. Many of these priests were moved from parish to parish and continued their unholy reign of terror upon innocent children.

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013
Article comment by: Cottonwood City Council To Revisit Ordinance 604...

...maybe. Reason the council may revisit the
recently passed Ordinance is that there are
many provision within the general laws (ARS) for
cities or towns to make proper enactments. For
example the ARS allows/requires city and towns
to maintain streets, to maintain water works,
to set up master plans for land use (etc) within
the city/town boundaries, to install/maintain
side walks,...,etc.

But there is no provision for "Civil Unions" As a
matter of history a state senate bill (SB 1041)
(subject: Civil Unions) was killed by this years
state legislators (by allowing the bill to die-in-committee).

A pragmatic approach for Cottonwood's City
Council is to entertain a motion to convert
Ordinance 604 to a Council Resolution and
submit the Resolution to next year's state
legislators with a cover letter requesting the
legislators to to re-visit and enact a Civil Union law...etc.

Thanks, Frank Henry


Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013
Article comment by: Edward Broker

I see it doesn't matter how much I point out religious hypocrisy, some people will always think they are already so righteous they qualify to disqualify other fellow sinners from God's free gift of salvation. Let me quote arch-conservative Cal Thomas—AGAIN! (Los Angeles Times Syndicate. 5/20/04)  "... Pro family groups have given it their best shot, but this debate is over.  They would do better to spend their energy and resources building up their side of the cultural divide and demonstrating how their own precepts are supposed to work.  Divorce remains a great threat to family stability, and there are far more heterosexuals divorcing and cohabiting than homosexuals wishing to 'marry.'  If conservative religious people wish to exert maximum influence on culture, they will redirect their attention to repairing their own cracked foundation.  An improved heterosexual family structure will do more for those families and the greater good than attempts to halt the inevitable"

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013
Article comment by: Tired of Hypocrisy

Never laughed so hard! narrow mindedness evolving itself into extinction? Hilarious. As a non religious person who believes in science it is pretty clear that if LGBT became the norm would be the only situation where evolution and extinction would occur. Common sense, pretty rare on the left.

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013
Article comment by: Councilmember Pratt: please educate yourself on what seperation of church & state actually is

WE THE PEOPLE..... did not want freedom FROM religion, but freedom OF religion. You fail to see that separation of church & state is to protect OUR freedom of religion, not of "to avoid mixing religion with a state government action" as you state.
Tell me Cottonwood City Council: when a gay couple comes into my bakery shop but I politely tell them I can not partake in their wedding because of my Christian faith (aka-I reserve the right to refuse service to anyone-I ain't baking your cake), what are you going to do to me when the couple sues me and goes to complain to the town to revoke my business license for discrimination?
See, your "I don't want to offend anybody" council just opened the door for religious persecution, you had a hand in it, so while you claim all day that you just want "equal" rights - you just made one up (gay rights) and took one away (religious freedom). Don't believe me? Ask Phil Robertson, boy they're gonna get that ol boy for saying what he believes in.


Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013
Article comment by: Thanks Mrs. Pfeifer for being the only council member to stand for what is true!

"Moral principles do not depend on a majority vote. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Right is right, even if nobody is right." -Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013
Article comment by: @ More than a -

Newsflash! Nobody is requiring you or anyone else to have homosexual relations.

What you do in your life and your bedroom is your issue and nobody else's, just as the same applies to people you might not agree with.

For all your bluster about traditional family units, etc, we all know it comes down to your revulsion over certain sexual acts plain and simple.

Within a generation or 2 such narrow mindedness will have evolved itself into extinction and we will all be able to live much happier lives full of love and caring instead of revulsion and hate.

Arguing the point with you any further is simply a monkey trap that will only reward you with the attention and reaction that you crave, and is time that could be much better spent with loved ones celebrating the small steps of inclusion and equality that make putting up with comments and attitudes similar to yours even the slightest bit bearable.

Have a great rest of your day. Will you spend it composing another anti-anything but your kind of sex screed or simply accept that...

People are people so why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully?



Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013
Article comment by: Lewis Sokoloff

I think slowly people will come to realize that Civil Unions and Gay Marriage does not threaten their own marriages. Also religion has nothing to do with peoples orientation. You are what you are.
My spouse [now that we have gone to California and have been married] have been together for 35 years and lo and behold have not been struck down.
Anyway maybe if communities,one by one, will give the people the right to love whomever they choose and unite them legally will wake the State legislators up and realize that eventually Gay Marriage will happen in their own states and keep the money at home.
Keep religion out of it!



Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013
Article comment by: More than a religious issue

The immorality of codifying homosexuality into our system of laws goes far beyond religion, although one has every right to be opposed based on moral standards derived from religion.

This is not surprising since virtually all of the world's major religions, including all 3 monotheistic ones, specifically prohibit homosexuality.

Beyond religion, there are a myriad of additional reasons why one can take a principled moral stand of opposition to legalizing homosexuality.

Key among these is the concept of the nuclear family, wherein children naturally born to a mother and father are raised in a family. The traditional family unit is arguably the most important component of any society.

Another valid reason to be opposed is the inherent perversion of the homosexual act. This perversion often manifests itself in ways that are not supportive or complementary to healthy families, including but not limited to the acceptability of widespread promiscuity, gender confusion, and a host of identity issues.

Social conservatives should not feel intimidated or bullied by the liberal pro-gay activist lobby that is pushing this issue.

Stay true to your cherished traditions, including the institution of marriage between a husband and wife, and supporting the nuclear family.


Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013
Article comment by: The lack of comments is heartening -

Either there are so many they have overwhelmed those that may review them or hopefully folks are over the issue and have found other more pressing and valid issues to get inflamed over.

The sun still rises and life goes on...just in a fashion that is a bit more civil than the days before and a touch more equal




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