Michigan tribe allows same-sex marriage, couple weds

Mar 15, 2013

Two men from Boyne City were the first same sex couple in Michigan to be legally married today.

This came minutes after the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians signed a statute to legalize gay marriage within the tribe.

Here's an on-air report I filed with sounds from the ceremony:

The Odawa tribe is the first tribe in Michigan and one of only three in the nation to legalize same sex marriage.

Denise Petoskey with the Odawa Tribe proposed the same sex marriage statute to the tribe last year.

“I’m just really excited and proud to be Odawa and I think it’s amazing and I hope other people take our lead,” said Petosky.

According to the Petoskey News, the tribal council voted against the amendment in a 4-5 decision last year.

Attitudes changed when a provision was added that required one member of the couple to be a tribal citizen.

Dexter McNamara the tribal chairman signed the statute today and wed the couple.

“I believe that all tribal citizens have equal rights. There’s no dividing line in this tribe as far as I’m concerned,” said McNamara.

Newlywed Tim LaCroix is a member of the Odawa tribe.

LaCroix’s spouse, Gene Barfield is not. Under their tribal marriage, Barfield will now get spousal benefits from the tribe.

Just last week the tribal council for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi passed similar legislation.

A spokesperson for Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office says the tribal marriages will not be recognized by the state of Michigan.

The Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians became the first tribe in the state to legalize same sex marriage today.

Moments after the same sex marriage statute was signed, two men who have been together for 30 years were married by the tribe.

Dexter McNamara the tribal chairman signed the statute and wed the couple.

“I believe that all tribal citizens have equal rights. There’s no dividing line in this tribe as far as I’m concerned,” said McNamara.

After 30 years of being together, Gene Barfield and Tim LaCroix were married just minutes after the Odawa tribe signed a statue to legalize gay marriage.

LaCroix is a member of the Little Traverse Bay Band. LaCroix’s spouse, Gene Barfield is not. Under their tribal marriage, Barfield will now get spousal benefits from the tribe.

“I’m so proud of my tribe, for doing this for Gene and I, it means a lot, not just for Gene and I but for all tribal members, for Native Americans in Michigan and elsewhere,” said LaCroix.

A spokesperson for Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office says the tribal marriages will not be recognized by the state of Michigan.