Cherokee Tribal Member Wants Tribe To Vote On Same-Sex Marriage

Monday, March 20th 2017, 10:53 pm
By: News On 6

Osage Nation voters approved to amend the tribe's definition of marriage from one-man-one-woman to "two persons."

Now, the Cherokee Nation is considering putting same-sex marriage to a vote, too.

The tribe's attorney general already issued an opinion back in December legalizing it, and many thought the same-sex marriage issue was put to rest then, but that might not be the case.

It's been a roller coaster ride for Dawn and Kathy Reynolds-McKinley.

"It was just hard for us - it took us back for a second. We thought this was over. We really, truly thought this was over," Dawn said.

Nearly 13 years ago, the couple tried to get a marriage license from the Cherokee Nation and got turned away. The tribe even went so far as to ban gay marriage.

Then, in December 2016, the tribe's attorney general, Todd Hembree, legalized same-sex marriage for the entire tribe.

The couple was thrilled and got their official Cherokee marriage license, even though they were already married in Oklahoma.

"We weren't just filing it for us, we were filing it for everyone else that, through the 13 years we went through this, came up to us and told us, 'We're Cherokee and I'd love to marry my partner someday,'" Dawn said.

Now, Cherokee tribal councilor David Walkingstick wants to put same-sex marriage to a public vote instead of taking the attorney general's opinion as law.

"I don't think one person needs to be making decisions on behalf of 340,000 people," he said.

Walkingstick said he's not for or against same-sex marriage, but Kathy and Dawn are still alarmed.

"Equality is not something that should be voted on. It should be guaranteed," Kathy said.

The tribal council will vote on the resolution Tuesday morning. If it passes, a special election will be held in June.