BISBEE (KGUN9-TV) - Gay rights activists are rejoicing, after the state of Colorado Thursday became the eighth in the U.S. to legalize civil unions for same sex couples.
Back here in Arizona, a similar bill awaits a vote in Phoenix, but residents in one small, southeastern town say they are tired of waiting.
Mark Hundley says it was a moment he always feared, when last year his partner of 12 years, Hywel Logan, seemed in need of emergency care.
"He was just in so much pain that he couldn't even talk for a while," said Hundley.
Luckily, Logan's pain was just a severe tooth ache.
The two only have power of attorney for each other.
"I have to go find the paper work in the drawer and hope that whoever is in the hospital doesn't decide not to honor it," said Hundley.
But the couple, who own and operate a small toy shop in Bisbee, says their daily life is far less challenging.
"I grew up in a small town in Kentucky, and I've never felt a sense of community until we moved here," said Logan.
And as of this week, that community became all the more welcoming.
"It's about time. It's 2013, and it just needs to happen," said councilman Gene Conners.
Tuesday night he and the rest of Bisbee's city council unanimously passed the first of two readings needed to legalize civil unions for same sex couples.
Civil unions are often carachterized as the "next best thing" to marriage, giving couples many of the same legal rights as married ones.
If the measure is passed, Bisbee would be the first Arizona municipality to do so.
Conners calls it a civil rights move with a side, economic benefit.
"People would come to town and spend the night, spend money, go to restaurants," he said.
It's a point that pales in comparison to the main message, for Hundley and Logan, who find themselves at the center of a hot button debate.
"I just want to know that we have legal protections for each other," said Hundley.
Logan agreed, adding, "It just seems ridiculous to me on a personal level that I have to go and defend my relationship to the state or to the country."
The second and final vote on civil unions is set for April 2nd.
As for the legality of this potential move, officials say they don't expect to be challenged, since these unions would only be recognized within Bisbee's city limits.
They point out the state constitution prohibits gay marriage, but it says nothing about civil unions.
9OYS did our best to find residents in Bisbee opposed to this measure who would go on camera, but we were unsuccessful. We encourage everyone, however they feel, to join the discussion here.