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Oklahoma Sees Its THIRD Same-Sex Marriage

Jim Burroway

October 23rd, 2013

Jason Pickel (left), Darren Black Bear

That’s right. Oklahoma. Jason Pickel and Darren Black Bear have been together for nine years. The Oklahoma City couple had been planning to travel to Iowa to get married, but when the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act last June, Black Bear decided to call the Cheyenne-Arapaho tribe (both are tribe members) to see if they could get a license through the Cheyenne-Arapaho court. They got good news:

Rosemary Stephens, editor in chief of the Tribal Tribune, a newspaper owned by the tribe, said the tribe’s law does not address gender in its marriage ordinance.

“One of them has to be a member of this tribe but not both,” Stephens said. “It’s our tribal law and order code. It doesn’t address gender at all.”

And it’s not even the first gay marriage that the tribe has licensed, she said. Lisa Liebl, spokeswoman for the tribe, said the first couple was two men who married on Dec. 12, 2012. Liebl said there is a third couple who received a marriage license on Oct. 7. Pickel and Black Bear were just the first who were willing to go public with their marriage plans, she said.

That’s right. The news going around the interwebs is that this is the first same-sex marriage license issued in Oklahoma, when in fact there have now been three. The first was ten months ago.

The Tulsa World verified that the Cherokee Nation, the Osage Nation and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation all have laws with specific language which bans same-sex marriage. Stephens said that the Cheyenne-Arapaho tribe has supported same-sex relationships for many years with no problems:

“We have a lot of support for gay couples within the tribe,” Stephens said. “They’re just not called out. … There’s a huge amount of support.”

As for the happy couple, they have planned a wedding for later this month. Black Bear’s father, a preacher, will officiate:

“My father has always fought for civil rights and equality and so that’s one of the reasons why we wanted to include them,” said Blackbear.

Blackbear says this will be his father’s first time officiating a same sex marriage, his father’s only request– for Blackbear and Pickel to write their own wedding vows.

Black Bear told Indian Country Today that his father has been contacted by other same-sex couples who want him to officiate at their weddings.



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