Law | National

Tlingit and Haida Tribes ensure equal treatment in marriage law

Richard Peterson. Photo from Facebook

The Tlingit and Haida Tribes in Alaska are the latest to join the marriage equality movement in Indian Country.

The tribe's seven-member executive council adopted a new statute that recognizes marriages as a union between two persons, regardless of gender. The vote in favor of the law was unanimous.

“The impetus for the new tribal code on marriage came from two places; exercising our self-determination and sovereign authority and making sure that we provide for equal treatment of our tribal citizens, President Richard Peterson said in a press release. “All of our tribal citizens should be provided the same rights. It’s an important statement for the tribe to make and one that was not difficult for our executive council to stand behind.”

According to Wikipedia, at least 21 tribes have adopted same-sex marriage laws or equality laws. The Tlingit and Haida Tribes appear to be the first in Alaska to do so.

"We are pleased to expand our tribal court to meet the needs of our tribal citizens," said Chief Justice Debra O’Gara. "Our court can now be utilized by tribal citizens for the happy occasion of marriage without discrimination and regardless of gender.”

Alaska's ban on same-sex marriage was overturned in federal court last October. The case is on hold pending resolution of a series of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court that will likely affect the dwindling number of states where same-sex marriages aren't recognized.

Related Stories:
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)

Join the Conversation