Tom Horne vs. Bisbee: Another image bruiser for Arizona? - FOX 10 News |

Tom Horne vs. Bisbee: Another image bruiser for Arizona?

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It's a landmark decision from the town of Bisbee, as they become the first city in Arizona to recognize civil unions for same sex couples.

But Attorney General Tom Horne is ready to follow through on a promise to sue the city now that they've approved such a measure.

The Bisbee City Council approved the measure late Tuesday night. And at least one business owner here in the valley believes a lawsuit against Bisbee is a waste of time -- and it may even turn away potential visitors to our state.

This hotel owner is afraid that this puts the same kind of negative spotlight on the state that happened with SB 1070, when it comes to tourism. He believes the attorney general is making a big mistake.

"We're just headed down the same path as before with MLK and SB 1070," said Ben Bethel, owner of Clarendon Hotel.

Ben Bethel worries that headlines like this could have a negative impact on Arizona's economy in terms of tourism.

"I think that the perception in the nation is that Arizona is a very backwards state and things like this are also used as fodder for other states to strengthen their position when it comes to their local tourism economy, their local convention economy."

Bethel says his hotel saw a drop in business back in 2010 with so much attention on Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law SB 1070.

In January of this year, a spokesperson for the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau told the Associated Press SB 1070 still has a lingering effect on drawing conventions to phoenix.

However, Attorney General Tom Horne says by suing the town of Bisbee, and blocking the new civil unions law -- he's just doing his job.

"I'm not commenting on the policy, I have nothing against treating people equally and they have every right to go to the legislature and ask them to change those laws," said Horne.

Horne says Bisbee's ordinance goes too far. Only the state has the power to control things such as joint property ownership and property inheritance.

He says any negative spotlight this lawsuit might bring to Arizona is irrelevant.

"I think this hotel owner is really off base. Nobody is taking the initiative in a negative way. You have a city council is out of control and it's exceeded its powers and it's my job to stop them from doing that."

Now Bethel wants people to contact their city leaders to try and get a law like Bisbee's put into place. Here's what Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said in response: "I commend the City of Bisbee for its effort to recognize civil unions. In the city of Phoenix, we are proud of our public domestic-partner registry and our domestic-partner benefits for employees, which make Phoenix competitive and show we know diversity is our strength."

He goes on to say he supports full rights, marriage equality, and that he's looking forward to the U.S. Supreme Court's pending decision on this issue. As for that lawsuit against Bisbee, Horne says he'll file it within a week.

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