Oklahoma same-sex couple legally marries under tribal law
October 22, 2013
This month, another tribal nation began extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. In Oklahoma, Jason Pickel and Darren Black Bear became the first same-sex couple to legally marry in the state, since they received a marriage license from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Concho, Oklahoma. They will have access to the federal protections of marriage - although the state of Oklahoma will continue to deny them respect.
Jason and Darren have been together for eight and a half years, and they were thrilled that they got the chance to declare their commitment in Oklahoma. They had planned a trip to Iowa, but called the Cheyenne and Arapaho Court House to see if they could marry.
"I was really expecting a big 'no'," Jason said. "I thought we were on our way to Iowa, but I called the tribe, and they said, yeah - to come on down."
Tribal code of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe requires that both people in the marriage are of Native American descent and live within the tribe's jurisdiction, so Jason and Darren were able to marry. Watch video from Jason and Darren below.
Tribal nations based geographically in the United States operate with their own constitutions, court systems, and governments. The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe is now the seventh tribal nation to respect and perform marriages for same-sex couples. In 2009, the Coquille Tribe in North Bend, OR began respecting and performing marriages between same-sex couples, and in 2011, the Suquamish Tribe in WA extended the freedom to marry to same-sex couples, too. In 2013, four tribes - the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in Michigan, the Santa Ysabel Tribe in California, and the Colville Tribal Council of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation in Washington State - also began marrying same-sex couples.