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Second lawsuit is
filed to block Cherokee lesbian couple's marriage

Second lawsuit is
filed to block Cherokee lesbian couple's marriage

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A new petition has been filed in a Cherokee Nation court challenging the marriage of a lesbian couple less than one week after a tribal court dismissed a lawsuit that had previously questioned the legality of the couple's union.

A new petition has been filed in a Cherokee Nation court challenging the marriage of a lesbian couple less than one week after a tribal court dismissed a lawsuit that had previously questioned the legality of the couple's union. Kathy Reynolds and Dawn McKinley enjoyed a short-lived victory after a lawsuit, filed by a private citizen, challenging their marriage was dismissed last Wednesday by the tribe's judicial appeals tribunal. The tribe's highest court ruled that Todd Hembree, who filed the original suit, did not have standing in the case and could not adequately prove he would be harmed by the couple's marriage. On Friday a group of tribal councillors filed a petition challenging the couple's marriage license on the same grounds. The petition is expected to be amended and refiled Tuesday. One of the councillors who filed the lawsuit, Linda O'Leary, claimed that necessity brought about the petition. "We don't want gay marriages in the Cherokee Nation. It's that simple," she said. "We do have standing in this case because we're the ones who make the laws." The Owasso, Okla., couple, both of whom are Cherokee Nation citizens, are fighting to have their marriage recognized by the tribe after other attempts to file their license were rejected. The couple could not be reached for comment Monday but said earlier that their marriage is not infringing on the rights of others within the tribe. Reynolds and McKinley have been in the middle of a complex battle over tribal law since they filed for a marriage certificate in May 2004. No same-sex couple had ever filed for a license before, and the certificate was granted in the absence of any laws expressly forbidding its issuance. After a marriage ceremony, the two returned twice to file their completed paperwork but were turned away both times. Tribal judicial officials soon called for a moratorium on all marriage licenses, regardless of sex. Before that ban ran out, Hembree sued the couple. Cherokee councillors worked to clarify the issue, unanimously agreeing to define marriage within the Cherokee Nation as the union of a man and a woman only. The act also outlawed adultery within Cherokee Nation jurisdiction. Reynolds and McKinley filed for a marriage certificate after determining that old marriage laws did not specify gender. (AP)

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