Sovereign Cherokee Nation To Recognize Same-Sex Marriages
Tulsa World reports:
While a tribal court recently avoided ruling on the issue, the Cherokee Nation will begin recognizing same-sex marriages under an opinion issued Friday by the tribe’s attorney general, who noted that Cherokees practiced something similar to gay marriage in past centuries.
While agreeing that the tribe, as a sovereign nation itself, was not bound by the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision that made gay marriage legal in all 50 states, Todd Hembree echoed the court’s reasoning, deciding that the tribe’s own constitution “protects the fundamental right to marry” regardless of the genders involved in the relationship. That decision effectively nullifies a law the Cherokee Nation enacted in 2004 to specify that marriages recognized by the tribe had to be between a man and woman.
That law came after two women, Dawn McKinley and Kathy Reynolds, obtained a marriage license from the tribe. Then-Attorney General Dianne Hammons issued an opinion that the license was invalid because Cherokee law, while not specifically requiring couples to be opposite-sex, presumed the traditional definition of marriage. The Tribal Council then quickly passed a bill to make that definition explicit.