White House Invites Michigan's First Gay Couple, Married by Tribe, as Guests

Two longtime gay partners from Michigan, the first to marry in the state and one of whom had returned his service medals in protest of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" about two decades ago, will be guests of President Obama on Thursday at a reception that honors LGBT Pride Month.

The invitees are Gene Barfield and Tim LaCroix, the first gay couple to marry in Michigan despite same-sex marriage being prohibited in the state, according to Federally recognized Native American tribes do not come under certain state laws, but the marriage is still not recognized by Michigan.

"So now we're going to have cookies and milk with the chief executive?" Barfield, who returned his medals from his time in the U.S. Navy to protest DOMA, was quoted as saying. "To be invited to the White House just blows us away."

DOMA, which forbids federal recognition of same-sex marriage, was passed by both houses of Congress by large majorities and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996.

Barfield and LaCroix, who have been together for three decades, are from the Band of Odawa Indians. Residents of Boyne City, they received the invitation from the White House about a week ago. They have called off their plan to visit Sacremento, California, so they could attend the reception.

"The fact that there is going to be an LGBT celebration at the White House, times change, times change," Barfield said, adding, however, that he wasn't sure if he would live to see the repeal of DOMA.

The Supreme Court is likely to decide this month on the constitutionality of DOMA to consider the claim that gays and lesbians have a fundamental right to marry.

The mayor of New London, Conn., Daryl Justin Finizio, and his partner, Todd Ledbetter, who are legally married, will also join Obama at the White House for LGBT Pride Month.

"My partner and I are moved by this invitation and are very grateful to President Obama for doing so much to support equal rights for all Americans," Finizio said in a statement. "We're proud to attend and represent our progressive city and its broad and diverse community of people from different nationalities, religions and genders."

LGBT Pride Month is celebrated by LGBT groups in June every year.

"This year, we celebrate LGBT Pride Month at a moment of great hope and progress, recognizing that more needs to be done," Obama said in his proclamation on May 31. "Support for LGBT equality is growing, led by a generation which understands that, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 'injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' In the past year, for the first time, voters in multiple States affirmed marriage equality for same-sex couples. State and local governments have taken important steps to provide much-needed protections for transgender Americans."

The president said his administration is "a proud partner in the journey toward LGBT equality," adding, "We extended hate crimes protections to include attacks based on sexual orientation or gender identity and repealed 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"

Free CP Newsletters

Join over 250,000 others to get the top stories curated daily, plus special offers!


Most Popular

More In U.S.