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Supreme Court ruling could affect tribal same-sex marriages

The forthcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision in US v. Windsor could lead more tribes to recognize same-sex marriage, a legal expert said.

The case tests the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which 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 so striking it down could resolve a key issue.

“That is the big hang-up for tribal gay marriage statutes, from a legal perspective,” Ron Whitener, the executive director of the Native American Law Center at the University of Washington School of Law, told The Bellingham Herald.

So far, four tribes recognize same-sex unions: 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.

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

Get the Story:
Local tribe among 3 in country to recognize same-sex marriage (The Bellingham Herald 5/8)

Related Stories:
Little Traverse Bay Bands recognize first same-sex marriage (03/18)

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