How’s that? Gay marriage is legal — but not on Indian tribal lands

How’s that? Gay marriage is legal — but not on Indian tribal lands
Credit: AP Photo/Matt York

Cleo Pablo married her longtime partner when gay weddings became legal in Arizona and looked forward to the day when her wife and their children could move into her home in the small Native American community outside Phoenix where she grew up.

That day never came. The Ak-Chin Indian Community doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages and has a law that prohibits unmarried couples from living together. So Pablo voluntarily gave up her tribal home and now is suing the tribe in tribal court to have her marriage validated.

“I want equal opportunity,” Pablo said. “I want what every married couple has.”

Pablo’s situation reflects an overlooked story line following the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic decision this year that legalized gay marriages nationwide: American Indian reservations are not bound by the decision and many continue to forbid gay marriages and deny insurance and other benefits.

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