The Marriage Equality Oasis In Oklahoma

It’s on tribal land. Mark Joseph Stern has the story:

Thanks to the death of DOMA, the federal government will also recognize [Darren Black Bear and Jason Pickel’s] marriage and provide them with a bounty of benefits. When DOMA was in force, it also applied to tribes; despite their general sovereignty, tribes could not compel the federal government to recognize gay marriages among Native Americans. With that roadblock abolished, Black Bear and Pickel should begin receiving federal marriage benefits immediately. …

Although this aspect of American marriage law remains vague for now, it may well be settled in the near future, as more and more tribes accept and even embrace same-sex marriage. Ron Whitener, executive director of the Native American Law Center at the University of Washington Law School, notes that many tribes have been quick to embrace gay rights, especially gay marriage. Homosexuality, Whitener says, has “a cultural presence among traditions of tribes,” and gay people are oftentimes considered “more spiritual” than heterosexuals. There’s also “a certain amount of ceremonial and sacredness about homosexuality among some tribes,” says Whitener,” leading to greater acceptance of gay tribal members.

Not all tribes, of course, are so progressive. Whitener believes that tribes in which Christianity plays a bigger role are more homophobic, while those with less exposure to the Bible are more tolerant of gays.