Native American tribes ignore Oklahoma ban on gay marriage

Two gay men are getting married under Native American tribal law in Oklahoma, apparently circumventing a state law that does not allow same-sex unions.

Activists said the marriage advances the cause of gay rights in a state that has blocked federal benefits for same-sex military couples in the past.

Jason Pickel, 36, and Darren Black Bear, 45, who have been together for more than eight years, were planning a trip to Iowa to get married. But they changed their minds when the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes allowed them to pick up a marriage license on Friday in the tribes’ courthouse after the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down, Pickel told Al Jazeera.

“I proposed to Darren several years ago, and we were planning an elaborate wedding,” he said. “Now,” he added, “we decided the time was right. I’m so happy; it’s just amazing.”

Lisa Liebl, the tribes’ public relations officer, told Al Jazeera in an email, “This is the 3rd same-sex couple to be issued a marriage license by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.”

According to their legal code, the candidates should be married on sovereign land and one should be a member of the tribes, but a marriage license should not specify a couple’s gender. The code reflects the respect enshrined in some Native American communities for gay individuals, who are often believed to be endowed with special spiritual gifts…

blackbearpickel
Daniel Black Bear & Jason Pickel

…They invited Oklahoma’s Gov. Mary Fallin — a fierce opponent of gay marriage. She politely declined, Pickel said.

In September, Fallin ordered the Oklahoma National Guard to stop handling same-sex marriage benefits for military spouses. Activists condemned her decision, and said they would pressure the U.S. Defense Department to comply with the new federal directive after DOMA was struck down…

The ACLU’s Ryan Kiesel said he believes the marriage will help raise awareness about the issue in a state that he said is perceived as one of the last ones that would allow same-sex marriage.

“The more concrete examples that people have of same-sex marriages in practice, the harder it will be to enforce discriminatory policies,” he said. It’s happening within our borders,” he added. “And the sky is not falling.”

The Chicken Little analogy is perfect given the whines from fundamentalist know-nothings who claim marriage will be crushed as an institution because same-sex marriages take place. Are there changes taking place in interpersonal relationships – including marriage? You betcha. Most of which flow from society moving oh-so-slowly towards recognition of individual liberty including women as well as men.

Throw in a dash or two of education and those portions of our society still stuck into the 14th Century continue to crumble and turn to dust. People who believe in love will continue to take control of their own lives instead of kneeling before vestigial primitive beliefs.

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