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 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 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.