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Mich. couple married on American Indian reservation invited to White House

Mich. couple married on American Indian reservation invited to White House

BOYNE CITY, Mich. — Two men who married one another on an American Indian reservation in Michigan, which bans same-sex marriage, have been invited to the White House.

John Flesher, AP (file)
Tim LaCroix, left, and Gene Barfield.

Tim LaCroix and his longtime partner, Gene Barfield, will be guests of President Barack Obama on Thursday at a reception honoring LGBT Pride Month, reported Saturday.

The men were married in March by the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, of which LaCroix is a member. Same-sex marriage is prohibited in Michigan, but federally recognized Native American tribes are self-governing and aren’t bound by state law.

Barfield and LaCroix, who live in Boyne City, say they were surprised to receive the invitation and canceled a scheduled trip to California so that they could go to Washington.

It’s particularly gratifying for Barfield, who marched on the White House 20 years ago and returned his service medals from his time in the U.S. Navy to protest the military’s former “don’t ask, don’t’ tell” policy, which allowed gays to serve but not to be open about their sexual orientation. It was repealed in 2011.

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“So now we’re going to have cookies and milk with the chief executive?” he said. “We’re always going to be in shock about this.”

The federal Defense of Marriage Act lets states refuse to recognize gay marriages performed in states that allow them, although the law is being challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The outcome of that case could affect pending suit in Detroit that contends Michigan’s ban violates the U.S. Constitution.

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