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Tribal laws can allow same-sex marriages

The topic of same-sex marriage is one that taking great attention around the nation. Each state seems to have different ways of handling the laws surrounding marriage and non-traditional unions. While Michigan residents wait for a change to the current ban on gay and lesbian marriages in their state, others around the nation do the same.
A recent news article, however, reported on an interesting loophole for gay marriages in Michigan and in other states. This statute applies specifically to people of Native American descent. Some tribal laws have been passed to allow the legalization of same-sex marriages under their jurisdiction—even in states where the overall state law does not permit it.

One Native American gay man who is part of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and his partner of 30 years were legally married this past spring thanks to the laws of the tribe. Three couples in other states have been married under the Cheyenne Arapaho laws, one of which has come public with their decision and marriage. Other tribes to legalize gay and lesbian marriage include the Coquille Tribe from Oregon and the Suquamish tribe in Washington. The country’s two biggest Native American tribes, the Navajo and the Cherokee, have not yet legalized same-sex marriages.
Couples that are not able to be legally married can still set up legal cohabitation agreements and may still be able to pursue gay and lesbian adoption. Working with an attorney that has experience in these areas can be very helpful for same-sex couples.

Source: Time, “A Gay Marriage Loophole for Native Americans,” Elizabeth Dias, November 1, 2013

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Lorrie J. Zahodnic

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Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C. has provided skilled and compassionate legal guidance to Michiganders in family law matters for over 20 years.

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