The City Council approved an ordinance empowering the issuance of civil-union certificates to domestic partners Tuesday night, giving couples who can't marry a place to record any contracts they've agreed to and greater recognition of their relationship.

Tucson was the first city in Arizona to set up a domestic-partner registry in 2003. But it offered few tangible benefits.

Under the new ordinance, couples can file contracts regarding inheritance rights, power of attorney, living wills and more.

The idea is to give couples who can't marry a document listing their commitments with a stamp of approval from the city.

The measure first brought to the council late last month came back to the council for final approval. The measure was approved 6-0. Council member Regina Romero was absent.

City Attorney Mike Rankin has said as long as the city doesn't offer rights reserved for married couples, the measure should not violate state law.

Since the city enacted its original registry on Dec. 1, 2003, more than 1,200 domestic-partnership certificates have been issued.

Senior Editor, News, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Az.