In the midst of an all-out battle to confirm Arizona's ban on same-sex marriage through a proposed state constitutional amendment, one legislator is sponsoring a measure to give gay couples more legal rights.
Democratic representative Kyrsten Sinema of Phoenix and 22 other lawmakers--mostly Democrats--are behind the move to provide more legal protections concerning property ownership, health care, inheritance, and parenting. "In Arizona there are over 100 rights that married couples have and gays and lesbians don't," said Sinema, noting that her bill would grant same-sex couples only a few, including the right to register as domestic partners.
Additionally, the legislation gives same-sex couples the right to adopt and splits in half the cost and responsibilities of raising a child. It provides the right to name a partner as a life insurance beneficiary, make decisions in life-threatening hospital situations, and arrange for the funeral and burial of a partner. It also allows same-sex couples to leave personal belongings to a partner and makes it easier to buy a house jointly as married couples do.
The bill was scheduled to be debated and possibly voted on this week in the house human services committee.
Conservative activists and lawmakers vow to derail it. They say the measure is nothing more than another attempt to legalize same-sex marriage. Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, said Sinema's bill would effectively undercut the institution of marriage. "It sounds like marriage," Johnson said, "just with a different name." (AP)