Thursday, October 24, 2013

Meet Oklahoma's First Legally Married Same-Sex Couple

There aren’t many places in this country that are less LGBT-friendly than Oklahoma; sheesh, sometimes I think we should pass a Constitutional amendment to rename the state Oklahomophobic, though that might not be fair to all Oklahomans. 

Still, same-sex marriage is illegal in Oklahoma; same-sex marriages performed in other states aren't recognized in Oklahoma, and last month the homophobic governor of the stet, Mary Fallin, asked the National Guard to stop processing benefits for same-sex couples, in spite of a federal directive to do so.

But, there are pockets of acceptance and tolerance and understanding and openness, but those pockets are really no bigger than that odd little coin pocket in your Levis 501s. So does it come as any surprise that The Gays, being a resourceful people, found a way to circumvent the anti-marriage equality laws in Oklahomophobic?

In 2009, one gay couple, Jason Pickel and Darren Black Bear, decided to get married; but living in Oklahoma they knew they had a better chance of seeing unicorns fly before they could legally wed, except ... They had the grand idea of getting married through the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribal Court, an autonomous Native American judiciary in Concho, Oklahoma, that isn't subject to state laws.

But when Pickel and Black Bear first asked the sovereign nation to perform the ceremony, they were denied because DOMA was the law of the land and it made their marriage illegal. Then we hit the teens, the 2013s, and suddenly DOMA was no more, and on October, 10, Jason Pickel and Darren Black Bear received an official marriage license from the tribal court, whose law code surrounding marriage "does not specify gender."

The Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes constitution does ask that both people seeking marriage must have Native American heritage and live within the tribe's jurisdiction—requirements Pickel and Black Bear met.
"I was really expecting [to be told] no, [but] they said, 'Yeah, come on down. It's 20 bucks.'"—Jason Pickel
While the couple will still be denied tax breaks on their state returns, they are a legally married couple in the eyes of the federal government, and entitled to all the same benefits and privileges of any married couple under the Constitution.
"I'm just so glad at the positive reaction people have had to this. Back in 2007, when Jason and I got denied service at a hotel in South Carolina because of our sexual orientation, the news picked up the story, and there was a lot of hate and negativity in the comments. But it really looks like things are changing now."—Darren Black Bear

Even in Oklahomophobic.


Anonymous said...

This is great to see. Oklahoma is the last place on earth besides Kansas that I would expect to have marriage equality.

the dogs' mother said...

Smart - those two fellows. :-)

Bob Slatten said...

Like I said, The Gays are a resourceful people!

anne marie in philly said...

@huntress - PA will also be one of the last to accept same-sex marriage; the ignorance & stupidity here is astounding.

congrats to the newlyweds!