Law | National

Santa Ysabel Tribe is first in California for same-sex marriage

The Santa Ysabel Tribe of California now recognizes same-sex marriage.

The tribe is the first in the state to do so. The announcement comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on the legality of Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that barred recognition of same-sex marriage.

"Although the tribe has certainly come far, they won't ever forget the sting of prejudice, or stand passively by when others suffer discrimination or denial of basic human rights," Chairman Virgil Perez said in a press release. "Native Americans have fought hard to establish and protect their own rights, and Santa Ysabel is determined to support our own, and other same sex couples in their struggle to be recognized and treated fairly as citizens of this great nation."

In addition to a ruling in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Supreme Court is due to issue a decision in US v. Windsor. The case centers on the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that defines marriage as a union between "one man" and "one woman."

The law does not require tribes or states to recognize same-sex marriages that may be legal in other jurisdictions. Striking it down could ensure that all unions are treated the same in all jurisdictions.

"In our support of their battle for equality, we want the LGBT community to know they are welcome here, and that the encouragement and respect of our membership are with them," Perez said.

The Santa Ysabel Tribe is the fifth in Indian Country to establish marriage equality. The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in Michigan, the Coquille Tribe of Oregon and the Suquamish Tribe of Washington amended their laws to recognize same-sex unions.

In contrast, the Navajo Nation and the Cherokee Nation, the two largest tribes, do not recognize same sex-marriage.

Related Stories:
Pokagon Band issues marriage certificate to same-sex couple (6/21)
Little Traverse man and new husband invited to White House (06/10)
Supreme Court ruling could affect tribal same-sex marriages (05/09)
Little Traverse Bay Bands recognize first same-sex marriage (03/18)

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