The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians are now the the third Native American tribe to legalize same-sex marriage.
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A Michigan gay couple are now married after their Native American tribe agreed to legalize same-sex marriage in a state where it’s officially banned.
Tribe member Tim LaCroix, 53, wed longtime partner Gene Barfield, 60, in Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians’ first same-sex ceremony, reports AP.
“I’m proud of my tribe for doing this and I love my husband,” LaCroix told NBC.
Barfield, who is not a tribe member, said: “To have Tim’s tribal community, which are an ancient people, welcome me into their midst and …that we are welcome as a married couple in a community, I’m just flabbergasted at how good this makes me feel.”
Dexter McNamara, chairman of the 4,600-member Native American tribe, read the couple’s vows in English during a cross cultural ceremony that included their tribal language and customs.
According to NBC, the ceremony featured a maple sapling, bent into a hoop with cedar, sage, tobacco and sweetgrass tied to it. The sweetgrass was lit, and the hoop was waved up and down over the couple to ward off evil spirits and bring in good spirits.
And with a kiss, the men became the first gay couple to marry in the state of Michigan.
Same-sex marriage is banned in Michigan but because of tribal sovereignty, neither state nor federal laws outlawing gay marriage can stop the marriage from being recognized.
“This is their turf,” Barfield told the newspaper. “They have their own government, they have their own police force, they have their own rules and regulations. They’re very big on respect, and for them to say to us, ‘We respect your relationship and your prerogative to define it as you choose,’ is really special'”
The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians is now the third Native American tribe to recognized same-sex marriage.
The Coquille Tribe in North Bend, Ore. recognized same-sex marriage in 2009 and the Suquamish Tribe in Suquamish, Washington followed in 2011, reports The Advocate.