Native American tribe votes to recognise gay marriage

gay marriage

The Osage Native American nation has voted to recognise gay marriage, joining the handful of tribes to have done so to date.

The Osages formerly lived across a broad swathe of terrority now occuped by modern-day states Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas, waging war on neighbouring tribes like the Cherokee and Kiowa. They had a reputation for being fierce and 19th Century American painter George Catlin described them as “the tallest race of men in North America”.

But as the United States spread wes they were forced, along with several other tribes, to relocate to so-called ‘Indian Territory’ , now known as Oklahoma. The Osage Nation has more than 20,000 enrolled members and most still live in the state.

A referendum changing the definition of marriage in tribal law to include same sex relationships was approved by 52 per cent of voters this week. Opposition was muted but some said they worried the measure would undermine traditonal values.

The measure was drafted by legislator Alice Buffalohead. She said:

“I know that for a lot of people it was a controversial issue, but for me, it was not.”

Student Henry Gray, who campaigned for the measure on Facebook, added:

“I have a lot of family and friends who identify as LGBT and there are still more who are afraid to come out, so getting that passed was pretty personal.”

The new decision allies the Osage Nation with their old enemies and current neighbours the Cherokee, who lifted a ban on gay marriage last year. Other Native American supporters of same sex marriage include the Arapaho and Cheyenne.

Same sex unions were legalised across the United States by the Supreme Court in 2015, but as independent entitites tribes are not obliged to recognise such rulings.

Image by Bride of Frankenstein via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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