PHOENIX – A tribal court has cleared the way for gay couples to marry on an American Indian reservation in the Phoenix area after a two-year legal battle that could have repercussions for Native Americans elsewhere.
The court ruled that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry under the constitution of the Ak-Chin community and the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968. “This decision made it clear that the tribal law was unconstitutional under tribal law” and not just U.S. federal law, said attorney Sonia Martinez, who represented the same-sex couple in the lawsuit. “I have no idea if other tribes are going to do the same thing, but I think it at least opens the door.”
Ak-Chin Indian Community Chairman Robert Miguel said he would not appeal the ruling.
“Today marks the conclusion of a lengthy but necessary legal exercise – one that respects the rights of tribal members and honors the sacred sovereignty and self-governance of the Ak-Chin Indian Community,” Miguel said.
The court ruling said four other Arizona tribes recognize same-sex marriages, including the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and the White Mountain Apache tribe. The Arizona Republic reported.