Native American Cherokee Nation now recognise same-sex marriages

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The Cherokee Nation’s attorney general has announced they will join with other Native American tribes in recognising same-sex marriage.

As a sovereign nation, the Cherokee are not obliged to adhere to the US Supreme Court ruling to permit marriage equality in every state.

Cherokee law did not exclude same-sex marriage until 2004, when it was changed to specify the union of a man and a woman. Now, Cherokee Nation attorney general Todd Hembree has said the changes made in 2004 are unconstitutional.

“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,” Hembree told CNN.

Hembree’s decision was prompted by inquiries from the Cherokee Tax Commission, who had concerns about licensing issues and legally recognised relationship status.

The attorney general said the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage runs contra to the Cherokee nation’s collective beliefs, as the tribe welcomed¬†diverse gender and sexual identities before the introduction of Christianity.

“A lot of time has passed since [2004],” a spokesperson for Mr Hembree said.

“And a lot of social changes have happened.”


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