A same-sex Oklahoma couple could be one of the first to publicly find a way around the state's ban on gay marriage.
"I was really expecting a big no. I thought we're on our way to Iowa, but I called the tribe and they said, 'Yeah, come on down. It's 20 bucks," Jason Pickel told Channel 8's sister station KOCO.
Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Court granted Pickel and his partner, Darren Black Bear, a marriage license. The tribal law requires both people be of native descent and must live in the tribe's jurisdiction. It does not specify gender.
"I have both a good reaction and a bad reaction. The good reaction is I'm very happy that these individuals were able to get married. The sad reaction is it's unfortunate that members of other tribes or members of the community at large don't have that same right," said lawyer and Dennis R. Neill Equality Center Board Member Mike Redman.
Redman identifies as Creek. He and his partner of 15 years hope to one day be married under state law.
Channel 8 contacted native nations around Green Country. Cherokee Nation, Muscogee Creek Nation, and Osage Nation confirmed that tribal law states marriage is between a man and a woman. This parallels Oklahoma state law.
Redman explained that tribal sovereignty means the native nations have the right to make their own laws when it comes to marriage. He said he is hopeful that tribes and governments will one day recognize same-sex marriages.
"If you go into a person's house and you look at the pictures on the mantle or on the refrigerator, you see the births of children and you'll see their wedding days: two most important days of their lives. Someday I look forward to having those pictures on my mantle as well, and I'm sure that they [Pickel and Black Bear] have them on their mantle now too," Redman said.
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