Jason Pickel was ready to marry his boyfriend of more than eight years, Darren Black Bear. But one small thing stood in their way: They live in Oklahoma, a state that still doesn’t extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.
The two discussed making a trip three states away to tie the knot in Iowa. But when the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in June, Pickel had a lightbulb moment.
Since both men were of Native American descent and lived within the tribes’ jurisdiction, they were able to circumvent Oklahoma law and be wed under the tribal code. The tribes do not specify a gender restriction for marriages.
Although Pickel is thrilled to be married, he described the union as partly bittersweet. “When we have equality in all 50 states and all U.S. territories that is when we'll have true equality,” Pickel said. “That's when I will be truly, truly happy.
Rachel Zarrell is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Rachel Zarrell at email@example.com.
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