Tribe's Loophole Lets Gay Couple Wed in Oklahoma

Jason Pickel, Darren Black Bear are first same-sex couple to do so

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 22, 2013 2:27 PM CDT

(Newser) – Oklahoma doesn't allow gay marriage, yet Jason Pickel and Darren Black Bear recently became the first same-sex couple to marry in the state. A tribal law loophole is to thank: State laws don't apply on sovereign Native American land, and the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal code requires only that both spouses be of Native American descent and live within the tribe's jurisdiction. Gender is not mentioned, KOCO reports. Pickel got the idea to ask the tribe if he and Black Bear could wed after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.

"I was really expecting a big no. I thought we're on our way to Iowa [where gay marriage is legal], but I called the tribe and they said, 'Yeah come on down, it's 20 bucks,'" Pickel says. "I do know at the end of the day the state offices won't recognize it, but they kind of have to." The tribe had declined to wed Pickel and Black Bear in 2009, the Huffington Post reports, but that was before DOMA was struck down.

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