Partners Jason Pickel and Darren Black Bear were able to exploit a loophole in Oklahoma law in order to become the state’s first legally married gay couple.
Local TV Station KOCO explains:
It’s the photo Jason Pickel still can’t believe, the moment capturing a marriage — he thought would never happen.
“That’s the biggest trip I’ve had so far,” said Pickel. “I’m not even sure how to even react. I’m very excited about getting married. It’s been eight and a half years.”
For the past five years, Jason’s wanted to marry boyfriend Darren Black Bear. The two even planned a trip to Iowa, a state that recognizes same-sex marriage. But when the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last June, Pickel had an idea. He called the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe’s courthouse and asked a simple question.
“I was really expecting a big no,” said Pickel. “I thought we’re on our way to Iowa, but I called the tribe and they said, ‘Yeah come on down, it’s twenty bucks.'”
Twenty dollars for what no amount of money could buy in Oklahoma — a marriage license made legal by the tribal code. Its requirements, both people be of Native American descent and live within the tribe’s jurisdiction. Nowhere does it specify gender.
“I do know at the end of the day the state offices won’t recognize it, but they kind of have to,” said Pickel.
That’s because on sovereign Indian land, state laws don’t apply, making Jason and Darren the first publicly married same-sex couple in Oklahoma, a milestone, he hopes is followed.
“When we have equality in all 50 states and all U.S. territories that is when we’ll have true equality,” said Pickel. “That’s when I will be truly, truly happy.”
Due to Pickel and Black Bear’s marriage, the couple is allowed to file for federal tax credits benefiting couples. They plan on holding an open wedding celebration on Halloween.