A gay male couple married Friday in
Michigan, despite the state's ban on such unions.
Tim LaCroix, 53, and Gene Barfield, 60,
married after the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Tribal
Chairman Dexter McNamara signed a proclamation allowing gay and
lesbian couples to marry on tribal soil. The tribal council voted
5-4 in favor of the change on March 3.
While Michigan's 2004 voter-approved
amendment limits marriage to heterosexual unions, state laws do not
apply to the tribe, which is considered a sovereign nation.
Therefore, the marriage of LaCroix and
Barfield is not recognized by the state. However, it is recognized
in 9 states and the District of Columbia.
McNamara officiated over the wedding,
which was described by the South
Bend Tribune as blending “familiar-sounding vows with
native symbolism including drumming and the burning of pungent sage.”
“I'm the happiest, luckiest guy in
the world,” Barfield said.
“We want to show people in the gay
community that you can do this – you can have a sustained,
fulfilling relationship and people will accept you,” said LaCroix,
a tribe member. “Times are changing.”
The couple first started dating while
in the U.S. Navy over 30 years ago.
At least two other U.S. Indian tribes
have legalized such unions: The Coquille Tribe in North Bend, Oregon
in 2009 and the Suquamish Tribe in Suquamish, Washington in 2011.