A Native American tribe in Oregon will counter the surrounding state's laws by recognizing same-sex marriages, The [Portland] Oregonian reported Wednesday.
The Coquille Indian Tribe, located on the southern Oregon coast, is a federally sovereign nation, placing it outside Oregon's constitutional jurisdiction. For a same-sex marriage to be recognized, at least one of the partners must be a Coquille. The tribe's recognition of gay marriages would violate the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal government recognition of same-sex marriages, according to Brian Gilley, an author and anthropology professor at the University of Vermont. The federal government could challenge the Coquille law, testing the limits of tribal independence and sovereignty.
Many Native American tribes have allowed same-sex relationships historically, Gilley said. However, he told The Oregonian, the Coquilles are probably the first tribe in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. After a lesbian couple married under an ambiguous Cherokee law in 2005, the tribe banned same-sex marriages, followed by the Navajos, the nation's largest tribe. (The Advocate)