Oklahoma Couple’s Same-Sex Marriage Valid Under Tribal Law, A First For State

A gay Oklahoma couple was married under tribal code in a first for the state that does not legally recognize same-sex marriages, Oklahoma City news station KOCO reported Monday.

Jason Pickel told KOCO he and his partner Darren Black Bear were prepared to travel to Iowa, which does recognize same-sex marriage, before inquiring at the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe’s Courthouse where they received a marriage license for $20.

Tribal code only requires that both people live within the tribe’s jurisdiction and be of Native American descent to issue a marriage license, making no mention of gender, according to the news station. Since state laws don’t apply on tribal land, the Supreme Court’s June decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act presented an opportunity for the couple.  

“I do know at the end of the day the state offices won’t recognize it, but they kind of have to,” Pickel told KOCO.

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Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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