Based on the opinion issued by the Attorney General for the Cherokee Nation, the tribe is now recognizing same sex marriages. The Attorney General for the tribe is Todd Hembree. In his opinion it is wrong to withhold the freedom to marry the person of your choice. He feels the Cherokee’s history of marriage and perpetual partnerships supports the right to choose their spouse and sexual orientation. This decision was the result of a request made by the tax commissioner for the tribe seeking an official opinion. Since Naïve American nations fall under the rule of Congress instead of the federal courts the decision to recognize gay marriages by the Supreme Court in 2015 had no legal effect on the Cherokee Nation.
The decision made by Todd Hembree was influenced by the sexuality narratives of the historical Cherokee Nation. He believe that although Euro-Americans and Cherokee’s differ regarding the appropriate roles for genders, spiritual beliefs, sexuality, and marriage there is a minority of Cherokees of alternate sexuality. Historical research has identified some historical recognition of homosexuals in the Cherokee Nation. For more details about the recent decision please visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cherokee-nation-will-now-recognize-same-sex-marriage_us_584b061fe4b04c8e2bafca0e?utm_hp_ref=native-americans.
The decision made by Tom Hembree effectively nullifies a law passed by the tribe twelve years ago. The law was referred to as the Cherokee Nation and Family Protection Act and placed a ban on tribe members engaging in same sex marriages. There are still Native American tribes where same sex marriages are illegal including the Navajo Nation. Most tribes have no stance on the matter. The Cherokee Nation believes some tribes will support them while others will not. The Cherokee Nation’s decision will immediately take effect. and is considered legally valid and binding. Cherokee officials do have the right to challenge the decision at any time although it is not believed this will happen.