American Indian lesbian couple hopes court recognizes marriage

BY admin

August 21 2004 12:00 AM ET

A lesbian couple in Oklahoma were scheduled to appear in Cherokee tribal court Friday afternoon to contest a protest against their marriage license.

Cherokee Tribal Council attorney Todd Hembree filed a petition June 16 against Dawn McKinley and Kathy Reynolds's marriage. He said it didn't follow Cherokee law, and he asked the court to consider the couple's marriage certificate null and void.

In May the women, Cherokee members who live in Owasso, obtained a marriage license application from the Cherokee Nation. They were married in Tulsa but have not been allowed to file the license with the tribe. "Our goal is to be able to file the license," McKinley said. "We always hope for the day when we do that and [will] be recognized by our tribe."

The tribe has said it does not support same-sex unions. After McKinley and Reynolds raised the issue, the tribe placed a moratorium on marriage license applications for all couples, which remains in effect.
The couple has said Cherokee laws regarding marital unions are vague about gender.

The women filed motions in tribal court August 12 asking the court to review their points. They also contend that Hembree used his stance against their union as a political platform in his unsuccessful campaign for the state senate. They say he was not motivated by the issue. They believe the complaints filed against them are inconsistent with Cherokee law, McKinley said.

If the court rules against them, they will proceed to the Judicial Appeals Tribunal, she said. Tribal officials said administrators did not have any input into what will happen at Friday's court hearing.

McKinley and Reynolds know the court might not let them file their marriage license. "It's rough every day to know our marriage isn't hurting anybody," McKinley said. "So why not let us file it?"

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