A northern Michigan Indian tribe will recognize marriages among gay and lesbian couples. The chairman of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Dexter McNamara, says he will sign a new marriage statute into law next Friday at his office in Harbor Springs.
“This is about people being happy,” McNamara said in the email announcement. He says denying same-sex marriage rights is discriminatory under an equal-protection clause found in the tribe’s constitution.
The tribe’s legislative body passed the marriage statute earlier this week in a split vote: five to four.
Under the new law, a marriage will be recognized if one of the pair is a tribal member.
The Indian nation is expected to become the third tribe in the U.S. to extend the right to marry to gay and lesbian couples.
The Michigan constitution bans same-sex marriage and civil unions, but tribes are sovereign nations, governed by their own laws.