Oklahoma same-sex couple uses tribal law to get marriage license

Two Oklahoma men have attempted to get around the state's constitutional ban against same-sex marriage by citing Native American tribal law.

Darren Black Bear and his partner, Jason Pickel, plan to get married on October 31 after the pair were able to acquire a marriage certificate at the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribal Court in the town of Concho, Oklahoma. Black Bear is a member of the Cheyenne-Arapho tribe, whose laws do not define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Oklahoma voters passed an amendment to the state's constitution  banning same-sex marriages or civil unions in 2004. The amendment also stated that anyone who issued a marriage license to a same-sex couple would commit a misdemeanor offense. The amendment passed with just over 75 percent of the vote.

As a result of the ban, Black Bear and Pickel had planned to get married in Iowa, where same-sex marriage is legal, before deciding to go to tribal court. The marriage still will not be recognized by the state of Oklahoma, though it will have taken place within its borders.

"It certainly creates an environment for people that come behind them to follow suit," Scott J. Hamilton, director of the Cimarron Alliance Foundation, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Oklahomans, told KOKH-TV.

"We're just super excited," Pickel told KOKH, "and we're hoping that everybody will soon have equality across America."

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