Although 76 percent of Oklahoma’s voters decided in 2004 to define marriage as a solely heterosexual act, two of that state's gay residents are married after finding a loophole in the law.
Jason Pickel and Darren Black Bear had been planning to head to Iowa to say their vows until they realized the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe’s courthouse might marry them.
“I was really expecting a big no,” Pickel told KOCO News in Oklahoma City
But they got a wonderful surprise—$20 later, they were married.
Homophobia is nowhere to be found in the original Native American tradition, the Washington Post reported earlier this year.
Scholars note that before their introduction to Christianity, many tribes accepted their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members as “two spirits,” even giving them added respect because they were thought to have special powers.
The subject does raise some controversy in the Native American community, where there's a struggle between accepting two-spirit individuals under older traditions and the relatively new-but-strong influence of Christian doctrine.
But Native American tribes that are accepting of gay marriage are operating under law that is just as good as any, according to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
In 1997, O’Connor wrote: “Today in the United States, we have three types of sovereign entities—federal government, the States and the Indian tribes. Each of the three sovereigns has its own judicial system, and each plays an important role in the administration of justice in this country.”
Considering there are more than 560 sovereign Indian nations and Alaska native villages—many of them spread throughout the parts of the country that are fairly hostile to gay marriage—we might have just found a lot of wiggle room for gay marriages all over the country.