Cherokee High Court Rules in Favor of Same-Sex Couple

Cherokee High Court Rules in Favor of Same-Sex Couple

Holds that Tribal Council Members Lack Standing to Challenge Couple’s Marriage

(Tahlequah, Oklahoma, January 4, 2006) In a ruling issued on December 22, 2005, the Judicial Appeals Tribunal of the Cherokee Nation, the highest Cherokee court, rejected an attempt by several tribal council members to invalidate the marriage of Cherokee citizens Kathy Reynolds and Dawn McKinley, who are represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). The Court held that the council members, who are the legislative branch of the Cherokee Nation, had no standing to seek a court order invalidating the couple’s marriage because the council members could not show that they were individually harmed or affected by the marriage in any way.  The Court rejected the council members’ argument that permitting the marriage to stand would injure “the reputation” of the Cherokee Nation.   

“We are relieved by the Court’s ruling,” said Kathy Reynolds.  “Dawn and I are private people, and we simply wish to live our lives in peace and quiet, just as other married couples are permitted to do.  We are grateful to the Court for applying the law fairly and for protecting our privacy and our rights as equal citizens of the Cherokee Nation.”