Steve Russell: Same-sex marriage back before Supreme Court

Coalition for Navajo Equality
Supporters of marriage equality on the Navajo Nation. Photo from Coalition for Navajo Equality

Judge and professor Steve Russell, a member of the Cherokee Nation, looks at same-sex marriage as the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the issue yet again in a series of cases this week:
In the places Chief Justice John Marshall dubbed “domestic, dependent nations,” maybe but maybe not. Tribal Courts owe no full faith and credit to U.S. Courts, let alone state courts, and the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection of the law does not apply to Indian nations. We call freedom to make our own law sovereignty, and we defend it jealously, for good reason.

Indians who live in their homelands and wish to solemnize a relationship with a same sex partner must do so, if at all, under tribal law. If tribal law is silent on the matter, then people in that situation should just walk forward until someone stops them. In a free nation, you can do anything that is not prohibited and harms nobody.

As best I can tell by nonsense like the “Defense of Marriage Act,” the bigots claim there are a finite number of marriages to be allowed, and so every time a gay couple gets married a straight couple has to get unmarried. If that claim were correct it would show harm. As it is, the claim merely illustrates a goofy sense of humor.

If a metaphysical limit on the number of marriages sounds silly, think about the arguments that will happen in the SCOTUS tomorrow and ask yourself what you would argue that does not violate the Constitution’s ban on establishment of religion. That is, you cannot give the reason that God whispered the ban in your ear, because it’s plain that He whispered something different to a lot of people. Or maybe it was a different God; I personally find it hard to tell anthropomorphic deities one from another.

Get the Story:
Steve Russell: Gay Marriage: Do Ohio’s Values Require Piling on Jim Obergefell? (Indian Country Today 4/26)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories:
Large tribes remain holdouts in same-sex marriage movement (04/07)
Tlingit and Haida Tribes ensure equal treatment in marriage law (02/23)
Man from Omaha Tribe hopes for marriage equality in Nebraska (02/23)
Group on Navajo Nation still working towards marriage equality (2/23)
Eastern Cherokee leaders reaffirm ban on same-sex marriage (01/14)
Wind River tribal judge presides over first same-sex marriage (11/17)
At least 10 tribes adopt laws to recognize same-sex mariage (07/28)
Siletz Tribes plan to hold advisory vote on same-sex marriages (05/20)
Alray Nelson: Bring marriage equality to the Navajo Nation (04/22)
Rep. Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee, slams marriage ruling (01/15)
Little Traverse Bay Bands council rejects marriage law vote (01/08)
Navajo Nation group seeks marriage equality on reservation (01/03)
Interview with couple about Cheyenne-Arapaho marriage law (10/29)
Amber Bighorse: Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes make history (10/28)
Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes draw attention to marriage law (10/25)
Editorial: Tribe leading way to marriage equality in Oklahoma (10/24)
Same-sex couple plans wedding under Cheyenne-Arapaho law (10/23)
Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes recognize same-sex marriages (10/22)