The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, a Native American tribe in Michigan, recently began recognizing and performing same-sex marriages. The first such ceremony was between Tim LaCroix, 53, and Gene Barfield, 60.
Michigan as a state does not recognize same-sex marriages, but the federally recognized tribe is self-governed and can make its own laws. Little Traverse Bay Bands is the third Native American tribe to recognize marriage equality.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 Postabout 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.”Woohoo! Such great news.