Members of the Osage Nation, a Native
American tribe in northeast Oklahoma, on Monday voted to allow gay
and lesbian couples to marry.
According to the tribe's paper, The
Osage News, 52 percent of voters cast their ballots in favor
of marriage equality.
The measure was authored by Osage
legislator Alice Buffalohead.
Henry Roanhorse Gray created a Facebook
group in support of the measure.
“I knew [the vote] was gonna be a
huge challenge to get a typically conservative and religious
electorate to pass marriage equality, so it being such a close race
was no surprise,” Gray, the co-creator of the Facebook group Osage
Citizens for Marriage Equality, told NBC
Out. “It really shows the importance of voting – history was
truly made by the ones who showed up.”
The United States recognizes more than
567 tribes as sovereign nations. As such, the Supreme Court's 2015
finding that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry does
not extend to federally recognized tribes.
“Tribes don't have to follow
Obergefell,” Robert Clinton, a professor in tribal law at
Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, told
Reuters. “Tribes should, unless they have a good reason not to.”
The Osage join only a handful of tribes
that recognize marriage equality, including the Cherokee Nation and
the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.