Cherokee Nation attorney general lifts same sex marriage ban
The attorney general of the Cherokee Nation, Todd Hembree, has rebuked the same-sex marriage ban and called it a ‘break within the constitution’.
Hembree has argued that the groups 2004 Cherokee Nation Marriage and family Act is unconstitutional.
Hembree said to CNN: “The constitution affords these rights to all Cherokee citizens, regardless of sexual orientation and the Cherokee Nation, or any subdivision, must recognise validly issued civil unions, same-sex marriages, and same-sex domestic partnerships from other jurisdictions.”
The attorney general made the decision to overturn the ban after being contacted by the Cherokee Tax Commission who were seeking information on recognition of same-sex marriages and licensing issues.
The decision to recognise same-sex marriages has gone into effect immediately, but may still be challenged by other officials within the group.
The sovereign nation was not bound by the Supreme Court’s decision to legalise marriage equality across all 50 states.
However, Hembree’s move was backed by the reasoning that the tribe’s constitution “protects the fundamental right to marry” regardless of gender.
Before 2004, there was no law preventing same-sex marriage in the nation but a law was then enacted which specified it must be between a man and a woman.
The attorney general stated that this went against the nation’s own constituency, and said that both gender roles and sexuality are “Christian constructs” and before Christianity was introduced to the tribe alternative sexual orientations were recognised.
The Cherokee Nation is the largest sovereign tribal group in the US with over 300,000 people who make up the nation, who are primarily based in Oklahoma.