One Statute for Two Spirits: Same-Sex Marriage in Indian Country
JURIST Forum, April 2013
3 Pages Posted: 11 May 2013
Date Written: May 10, 2013
On March 15, 2013, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBB) became the third tribal nation to recognize same sex unions. The LTBB statute, Waganakising Odawak Statute 2013-003, defines marriage as “the legal and voluntary union of two persons to the exclusion of all others.” The Coquille Tribe, in 2009, and Suquamish Tribe, in 2011, both previously recognized same sex unions. Unlike the Coquille Tribe, located within Oregon, and the Suquamish Tribe, located within Washington, LTBB’s tribal territory is located within Michigan, a state that does not currently recognize same sex marriages. Accordingly, some may question the authority of LTBB and similarly situated tribal nations to enact provisions, such as the Waganakising Odawak Statute 2013-003, that conflict with state policy. This article addresses issues surrounding the authority of tribal nations to enact provisions allowing for same-sex marriage or unions.
Keywords: same-sex marriage, same-sex unions, tribes, American Indian, Native American, tribal same-sex marriages, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians
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