In case you missed it:
Tim LaCroix, 53, of Boyne City, and his longtime partner Gene Barfield, 60, of Boyne City are married at the government headquarters complex of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians on Friday March 15, 2013 in Harbor Springs. / Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press Columnist
The groom wore a black sweater. The other groom wore a red one.
Tim LaCroix, 53, and Gene Barfield, 60, were in the enrollment office this morning (March 15th) at the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians government facility.
The couple took turns filling out an application to get married, paid the $15 fee and received a marriage license. Both smiled nervously.
It was a historic day. Not just for them and not just for the tribe that LaCroix belongs to, but for Michigan too.
The two men were about to be the first same-sex couple to be legally married in this state.
Last year, the Odawa tribal council debated a resolution to recognize gay marriage, but the measure failed by one vote. When it was reintroduced, the language was changed to require at least one spouse to be a tribal citizen, and that swayed support. On March 2, it passed by a 5-4 vote.
All that was needed was the signature of tribal chairman Dexter McNamara, whose veto would have required a difficult 7-2 council majority to override.
McNamara not only signed it, but also asked to perform the wedding ceremony.
“I’ve always felt that either you believe in equal rights or you are prejudiced,” McNamara said. “We don’t have a dividing line in this tribe. Everyone deserves to live the lives of their choice.”
Out of 500 federally recognized tribes in the country, and a dozen in Michigan, the Odawa tribe became the first ever to legalize gay marriage in the state and only the third in the nation.
And because of tribal sovereignty, neither the state’s constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage nor the federal Defense of Marriage Act can stop them.
“This is their turf,” Barfield said, standing in the tribal offices. “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.”
“I’m so proud of my tribe for doing this,” LaCroix added. “I just can’t say enough.”
The couple met in 1983 while both were on active duty in the Navy. They live in northern Michigan, where they garden, assemble model railroads and share two dogs and a cat.
“We’ve been partners for 30 years in the way people use the word ‘partner’ for a same sex couple,” Barfield said. “Now we’re not going to be partners anymore. We’re going to be spouses.”
They wanted to get married at the signing ceremony for the statute, which gave them barely two weeks to prepare.
They hastily ordered cupcakes for the impromptu reception to follow. They found a tribal member to perform a traditional ceremony, alongside the secular one. They made little pouches of tobacco to hand out in a nod to tribal custom. And they invited friends and family from this small-town region.
About three dozen guests filled the seats arranged in the lobby this morning. There were relatives from both sides, beefy tribal members, employees who work in the building and wanted to wish the couple well, and a contingent from the hardware store where LaCroix works.
“We’re just all giddy over it,” said Kathy Hughes, his longtime coworker. “They’re like family to us.”
Once McNamara signed the bill, tribe communications coordinator Annette VanDeCar acknowledged it was a controversial decision.
“I’ll be honest,” she told the crowd. “There are people in our community that aren’t supportive of what is happening today, but that’s OK. We as Indians are taught to respect people as individuals, and as individual people have the right to decide what is best for them.”
For this couple, a few tweaks were necessary in both the paperwork and the ceremony, like changing the word “wife” in the vows and on the license application to “spouse.” But it otherwise was a standard civil ceremony.
The chairman read the vows, and LaCroix went first in repeating them.
For better or for worse, to love and to cherish, from this day forward.
“I do,” he said.
Then came Barfield’s turn, and his composure melted a little. As he read the vows, his voice began to crack and his eyes grew moist. All the while, he looked at LaCroix with a beam of a smile.
They exchanged rings, and the chairman pronounced them married. They punctuated the ceremony with a brief kiss and a long, long hug.
Then they repeated it with a tribal ceremony using the sage, the feathers, the maple branch and the drum that were carefully laid out on a table.
There were no activist speeches, no protesters — only a crowd witnessing a wedding that was unlike any they’d ever seen, but was really no different than any other.
“We’re just so excited for them,” Hughes said. “They’ve been together 30 years. It’s longer than a lot of marriages have lasted.”
John Carlisle is a columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-222-6582.
by Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry
Over the course of the past year or so, we’ve witnessed a slow evolution in Catholic hierarchical thinking on marriage for same-gender couples. Recently in France and Great Britain, bishops’ groups have spoken more positively about same-gender couples than they had before. In Germany and Italy, individual bishops have made positive statements about same-gender couples. Even here in the U.S., Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George made surprisingly positive statement about love between people of the same gender, even though he opposed Illinois’ marriage bill.
Archbishop Vincent Paglia
Today, the positive statement on same-gender relationships comes from the Vatican itself. The National Catholic Reporter stated:
“A high-ranking Vatican official on Monday voiced support for giving unmarried couples some kind of legal protection even as he reaffirmed the Catholic church’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
“Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, also said the church should do more to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in countries where homosexuality is illegal.
“In his first Vatican press conference since his appointment as the Catholic church’s “minister” for family, Paglia conceded that there are several kinds of ‘cohabitation forms that do not constitute a family,’ and that their number is growing.
Paglia suggested that nations could find ‘private law solutions’ to help individuals who live in non-matrimonial relations, ‘to prevent injustice and make their life easier.’ “
Paglia also spoke forcefully opposing discrimination and criminalization of homosexuality:
“Responding to journalists’ questions, Paglia also strongly condemned discrimination against gay people, who he said ‘have the same dignity as all of God’s children’
” ‘In the world there are 20 or 25 countries where homosexuality is a crime,’ he said. ‘I would like the church to fight against all this.’ “
While these positive remarks are welcome, it must also be said that Paglia still strongly opposed marriage equality:
” ‘The church must defend the truth, and the truth is that a marriage is only between a man and a woman,’ he said. Other kinds of ‘affections’ cannot be the foundation for a ‘public structure’ such as marriage.
” ‘We cannot surrender to a sick egalitarianism that abolishes every difference,’ he warned, and run the risk of society becoming a new ‘Babel.’ “
Despite the continued intransigence on marriage equality, I think it is important to note that the archbishop’s comments represent a giant step forward in terms of Vatican recognition of same-gender couples. Even just a month ago, when the pope made harsh statements against same-gender relationships in his World Peace Day message, one could not have imagined a Vatican official making such positive comments as Paglia did. His comments are a small change, but all change happens little by little.
- Vatican signals options for protecting gay couples (religionnews.com)
- A Big Day for Marriage Equality, UK – and for Queer Catholics, Worldwide (queeringthechurch.com)
- Vatican criticizes court ruling on gays’ children (miamiherald.typepad.com)
From Joe My God:
On Wednesday the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee will begin hearings on a proposed civil unions bill.
Senate Bill 11 would “authorize any 2 unmarried adults, regardless of gender, to enter into a civil union.” Last year, the Colorado House failed to vote on a civil union bill before the end of a special session of the legislature. This legislative session, democrats control the majority in the House and Senate. House Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D – Denver) says he would like to have a civil unions bill on Governor Hickenlooper’s desk by Valentine’s Day but has acknowledge it may take more time to get the bill through both chambers.
Hot on the heels of Washington marriage equality, and with Wyoming considering marriage equality (and a civil unions bill), looks like the west may be getting more savvy.
Probably the sweetest thing I’ve read in a long time comes from yesterday’s Oregonian:
Eric Marcoux and Eugene Woodworth will celebrate 60 years together on June 13.
The couple met in Chicago in 1953. Woodworth was a ballet dancer, and Marcoux was just leaving a Trappist monastery.
Marcoux, 82, and Woodworth, 84, participate in Friendly House’s Gay and Grey program, and Marcoux has been a Buddhist teacher for 23 years.
The Oregonian caught up with the couple in their Northwest Portland home, which they share with their macaw, Big Bird, to learn their secrets to a healthy and happy partnership.
And if you know anybody at Starbucks- this couple deserves free lattes for life.
Jesse Page, left, and Brendan Taga, exchange wedding vows just after midnight on Sunday, December 9, 2012 at the King County Courthouse in Seattle. Marriage ceremonies were held in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Mary Yu beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, the first day same-sex couples in Washington State can legally be married. Many of the judges donated their time to be at the courthouse to officiate at the weddings. Click pic for more…. Photo: JOSHUA TRUJILLO / SEATTLEPI.COM
- Same-sex couples in WA start taking wedding vows (sfgate.com)
- Who’s Marrying the First Gay Couple? Judge Mary Yu (slog.thestranger.com)
By Adam Polaski
Dec 07, 2012 at 03:25 pm
Moments ago, the Supreme Court announced in an order that it has decided to hear the Proposition 8 case and a challenge to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. Now, the Court must schedule the cases for oral arguments, which are likely to be heard in the spring of 2013. We should hear final news on rulings in both cases by June of 2013.
Our founder and president Evan Wolfson reflected on the news that the Supreme Court will hear Windsor v. United States, one of the key challenges to DOMA:
By agreeing to hear a case against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the Court can now move swiftly to affirm what 10 federal rulings have already said: DOMA’s ’gay exception’ to how the federal government treats married couples violates the Constitution and must fall. When it comes to the whole federal safety net that comes with marriage – access to Social Security survivorship, health coverage, family leave, fair tax treatment, family immigration, and over 1000 other protections and responsibilities – couples who are legally married in the states should be treated by the federal government as what they are: married.
With the clock now ticking on a Supreme Court marriage decision in 2013, it is more urgent than ever that we make the same strong case for the freedom to marry in the court of public opinion that our advocates are making in the courts of law. With momentum from Election Day victories for the freedom to marry in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington, the way to maximize our chances of winning in court over the next several months is to win more states and win over more hearts and minds. We can show the justices that when they do the right thing, it will stand the test of time and be true to where the American people already are.
He also commented on the Court’s decision to hear the Proposition 8 case, Hollingworth v. Perry:
Gay and lesbian couples in California – and indeed, all over the country – now look to the Supreme Court to affirm that the Constitution does not permit states to strip something as important as the freedom to marry away from one group of Americans.
Windsor v. United States dates back to November 2010, when the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on behalf of Edie Windsor, the 83-year-old widowed lesbian from New York who sued the government for the $363,000 in estate taxes that she was forced to pay under DOMA following the death of her late partner Thea Spyer in 2010. Windsor and Spyer were together for more than 40 years and wed in Canada in 2007. Because of DOMA, their marriage was not respected by the federal government.
In June 2012, U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones sided with Windsor by ruling DOMA’s Section 3 – which explicitly restricts marriage to different-sex couples – unconstitutional. In October 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld that lower ruling, and the case was subsequently petitioned to be heard by the nation’s highest court.
The Proposition 8 case, Hollingworthy v. Perry (formerly Perry v. Brown) dates back to March 2009, when the American Foundation for Equal Rights filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to challenge the constitutionality of Proposition 8. Prop 8, which passed in California on November 4, 2008, is a citizens’ initiative that repealed the freedom to marry in the state, overturning a May 2008 decision from the California Supreme Court legalizing marriage for same-sex couples across the state.
Yeah, I left the donation link in for a reason….
Help if you can.
- Supreme Court to Review Proposition 8 and Windsor DOMA Case (towleroad.com)
- BREAKING: Supreme Court To Hear Proposition 8 & Windsor DOMA Cases (joemygod.blogspot.com)