"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Marriage News

One thing we tend not to think about in the ongoing battle over same-sex marriage in this country is how the Indian tribes and nations are dealing with it. This story brought the question front and center:

While a tribal court recently avoided ruling on the issue, the Cherokee Nation will begin recognizing same-sex marriages under an opinion issued Friday by the tribe’s attorney general, who said that Cherokees practiced something similar to gay marriage in past centuries.

While agreeing that the tribe, as a sovereign nation itself, was not bound by the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision that made gay marriage legal in all 50 states, Todd Hembree echoed the court’s reasoning, deciding that the tribe’s own constitution “protects the fundamental right to marry” regardless of the genders involved in the relationship.

This may not be the final word, if the council decides to get involved, but the opinion does take effect immediately. If you're interested, the full opinion is here.

One thing that came up in the comments on the post at Towleroad impelled me to do a little checking. As of now, thirty-three jurisdictions among the Indian nations and tribes specifically recognize and/or permit same-sex marriages; another seventy-two have laws that are ambiguous but do not forbid it. There are ten that specifically do not permit same-sex marriages.

One other thing that struck me about Hembree's opinion: He does note that before European contact, alternative gender roles and sexual orientations were recognized and, according to some early accounts, may have been formalized. (Pages 3 ff. of the full opinion, which PDF will not let me copy and paste.) This is something that seems to hold true for any number of societies before Western contact and the introduction of Christianity.

Take that for what it's worth.

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