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Marriage Equality

Michigan Native American Tribe Recognizes Same-Sex Marriage

Michigan Native American Tribe Recognizes Same-Sex Marriage


The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians tribe in Michigan performs their first same-sex marriage ceremony.

The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians recently became the third Native American tribe to legalize same-sex marriage.

Tribe member Tim LaCroix, 53, wed partner Gene Barfield, 60, in Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians' first same-sex ceremony. Though Michigan, the state where the Little Traverse Bay Bands tribe resides, does not recognize same-sex marriage, the tribe, along with other U.S. federally recognized tribes are self-governed and aren't subject to state laws.

The Coquille Tribe in North Bend, Ore. recognized same-sex marriage in 2009 and the Suquamish Tribe in Suquamish, Wash. followed in 2011. The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians tribe is made up of 4,531 members, and while same-sex marriage discussions began in February 2012, it wasn't until this month that the law went into effect within the tribe.
Cherie Dominick, who works in the tribe's legal department, spoke with the Huffington Post about her tribe's decision: "Our tribe is making history. I'm very proud," she said, "The idea that same-sex relationships are immoral is 'an imposed Western belief' that contradicts the traditional native concept that people have 'two spirits' with male and female natures." Tribal Chairman Dexter McNamara, who presided over LaCroix and Barfield's ceremony, had the power to veto the marriage bill, but as he told the Huffington Post: "Everyone has a different view of what love is, and all are deserving of respect."
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