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Monday, July 22, 2013

Congratulations to the LaCroix and Barfield Same Sex Marriage Wedding and Reception in Michigan

Photo Credit - The Freep
Tim LaCroix and Gene Barfield celebrated Michigan's
first legal Same Sex Marriage and reception the weekend of July 20th

By  IU News & Talk
Columnist - Joel M.

Michigan is one of 37 states where gay marriage is currently illegal in the United States.

A few months ago, however, the Little Traverse Bay Tribe of Odawa Indians ruled 5 – 4 in favor of recognizing same-sex marriages. Soon thereafter Tim LaCroix and Gene Barfield became the first same-sex couple in the state of Michigan to marry after having been together for over 30 years.

Although LaCroix, who is a member of the Odawa Tribe, was not involved in the tribe’s decision, he says that he did talk to the Tribal Chairman about signing the decision.
“It wasn’t until I asked the Tribal Chairman to sign it that he made his ultimate decision to do it. I am very proud of him.”
Since their wedding, LaCroix and Barfield have had a full plate as they prepared to welcome guests to their reception this past Saturday, July 20th. This was no ordinary wedding reception. The newly wedded couple has invited the public and expect anywhere from 400 to upwards of 1000 guests to turn up.

When asked about the scale of their celebration, LaCroix responded by saying, 
“Remember, we have been a couple for over 30 years. It was more important for us to share our happiness with not only our friends and family, but also all of you who we do not know who have wished us so much happiness and good will.”
Among those wishing LaCroix and Barfield well is the President of the United States himself. LaCroix and Barfield received a letter from the President inviting them to join him for a White House reception in honor of LGBT Pride Month. 

Closer to home, many believe that the rest of Michigan is ready to overturn its ban on same-sex marriage which has been a part of the state constitution since 2004. Recent polling from earlier this spring indicates that 55 percent of Michiganders would vote to amend the state constitution to allow gay marriage while only 41 percent oppose – a near reversal of the 2004 ballot measure. A referendum may not happen until 2016, however, meaning that LaCroix and Barfield could be the state’s first and only married gay couple for at least several more years.

LaCroix downplays the position of being Michigan’s first married gay couple, instead underscoring the importance of ensuring their commitment to pursuing the same rights for other couples. 
“We will work hard to make sure you can someday be married to the person you love if you cannot already," LaCroix

“Our 15 minutes of fame is in overtime and this too shall pass – and to be honest it will be nice to get back to our happy, somewhat sheltered lives. In the meantime, we are on cloud nine because we are now married contrary to what the state of Michigan says.”
Given LaCroix’s promise to continue the fight for marriage equality, the reprieve may be short-lived. The local Democratic National Committee, for example, has already solicited the couple’s involvement, including the possibility of running for office.

LaCroix and his husband reside in Boyne City – hardly a bastion of progressive politics. Still, LaCroix reports that since the wedding, the response has been “overwhelming.” 
We have had very few negative responses… This is especially amazing in the area we live in which has a vast majority of Republicans and is basically small-town America.”
More pressing questions face the couple, however. LaCroix points out that since the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has been overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States, their marriage – which is illegal according to the Michigan state constitution – is now recognized on the federal level. This leaves the two in a truly unusual situation. For example, while most couples who get married take it for granted that their marriage will be economically beneficial, what happens when your marriage is recognized by your tribe in a state which bans your marriage? Attorneys are currently investigating the legal repercussions.

Despite these questions and uncertainties regarding the future, another very concrete dilemma faces the couple in the meanwhile: The couple has put off work on expanding their reportedly “tiny” house because of the wedding reception and, if work doesn’t begin on it soon, LaCroix jokes that they may make the history books a second time as the first gay couple divorced in the state of Michigan. 

As already mentioned, Tim and Gene’s reception is open to the public and was held on July 20th.

If you are interested in more information or to send happy congratulations wishes to the happy couple, visit Tim & Gene’s Wedding Celebration Page on Facebook.

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