Tribe Marries Gay Couple Despite State Ban

But what if the couple moves to Michigan?
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2013 6:18 PM CDT
Tim LaCroix, left, and Gene Barfield relax in the tribal chairman’s office, Friday, March 15, 2013, in Harbor Springs, Mich., after getting married.   (AP Photo/John Flesher)
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(Newser) – Two gay men married on an Indian reservation in Michigan today despite the fact that state law prohibits same-sex marriage, the AP reports. Gene Barfield, 60, and Tim LaCroix, 53, said their vows on the reservation of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, which is federally recognized and unbound by state law. "I'm the happiest, luckiest guy in the world," said Barfield. But the tribe's new policy could trigger a legal battle if Barfield and LaCroix move off the reservation and attempt to confirm their marriage in Michigan, says one analyst.

What's more, the men haven't decided whether to file their taxes as a couple or ask LaCroix's health insurer to recognize Barfield as a dependent. The Michigan tribe took a while to accept gay marriage, beginning the discussion a couple of years ago and finally approving it by a 5-4 tribal council vote last month. "Our tribe is making history," said an employee in the legal department. "I'm very proud." Same-sex marriage is recognized by at least two other US Indian tribes—including one in Oregon, which also has a Constitutional ban on gay marriage. (Read more Indian reservation stories.)

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