Marriage equality became law today for the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians in Michigan when Chairman Dennis McNamara signed a new marriage equality measure passed by the tribal council on March 3rd. Not only did he sign the bill, but McNamara then presided over the wedding of two of his longtime friends who met three decades ago in the Navy. The Chairman told the Associated Press:
MCNAMARA: There should not be a dividing line, and we should all be able to seek a good life.
Unfortunately, those who will now be able to marry through the Little Traverse system still face legal questions in the state of Michigan due to a constitutional ban on gay marriage in the state. Though the Tribe has the sovereign authority to enact its own marriage laws, it is unlikely that the state will recognize them.
Bryan Fisher, Director of Issues Analysis for the right-wing American Family Association, not only derided the tribe’s decision, but went a step further to prescribe their cultural values to the tribe:
FISCHER: We think it would be a serious mistake for any sovereign nation to legalize same sex marriage…Homosexual behavior itself is immoral, it is unnatural and it is unhealthy, and it is a mistake for any culture to normalize that kind of behavior.
Two other Tribal nations have legalized same-sex marriage, the Coquille Tribe in Oregon, and the Suquamish Tribe in Washington. And, the LGBT legal equality movement is growing with the launch of a new Tribal equality toolkit, now being shared with interested tribal leaders.
Our guest blogger is Erik Stegman, Manager for the Half in Ten campaign at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.