Same-Sex Couple Weds in Oklahoma Despite State Ban

by Andrew Johnson

A same-sex couple in Oklahoma has obtained a marriage license through a local American Indian tribal court despite a constitutional ban on the practice in the state. One of the two men, Darren Blackbear, is a member of the Cheyenne-Arapaho nation. Under Cheyenne-Arapaho nation laws, marriage is not defined as being between a man and woman, and Blackbear was able to obtain a certificate to wed his partner, Jason Pickel, through the tribal court. The couple had previously decided to marry in Iowa, but decided to head to the nearby Cheyenne-Arapaho tribal court in Concho, Okla., on Tuesday, instead.

“People keep saying we found a loophole to get married in Oklahoma. But we’re not getting married in Oklahoma,” Pickel said. “We’re getting married in the sovereign nation of the Cheyenne Arapahoe Tribe.”

While the Sooner State will likely not recognize their marriage, the federal government will following this year’s Supreme Court ruling. A local LGBT organization said it expects other same-sex couples in the state to follow Blackbear’s and Pickel’s path to obtaining wedding certificates.

“It certainly creates an environment for people that come behind them to follow suit,” the director of Cimarron Alliance said. According to the tribe’s spokeman, Blackbear and Pickel are the third same-sex couple to wed in the Cheyenne-Arapaho nation.

The couple will have a marriage ceremony on October 31, officiated by Blackbear’s father, which will be open to the public.

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