Cherokee Nation to Begin Issuing Gay and Lesbian Marriage Licenses

Effective immediately, Cherokee Nation will begin issuing same-sex marriages.  Attorney General Todd Hembree said that the Cherokee Nation Tax Commission sent an inquiry asking if the Native American group could issue motor vehicle licenses to a woman who used her same-sex marriage certificate as proof of ID. Hembree said that because of the Due Process Clause along with the Equal Protection Clause of the Cherokee Constitution, banning same-sex marriages would be unconstitutional.

“There can be no doubt that the same-sex marriage ban rests solely upon distinctions drawn according to sexual orientation. The right to marry without the freedom to marry the person of one’s choice is no right at all,” Hembree said.

Hembree had once defended opposite-sex marriage, but said that Cherokee Nation must also evolve with the current laws of the land.

“Just like anything else in life, times change, interpretations of the law change,” Hembree said. “The law that was overturned based on the opinion that I just issued, based on the plain reading of the Cherokee Nation Constitution … and in my opinion guaranteeing equal rights for all — it was not lost on me that I was personally changing my opinion and personally changing my legal position.” [NBC]


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