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Oglala Sioux Tribe Slow to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Did you know that our gay and lesbian neighbors couldn’t get married on Pine Ridge until this month? I sure didn’t… but sure enough, Obergefell v. Hodges didn’t apply to reservations, and the Oglala Sioux Tribe balked at 21st-century marriage equality for three more years:

On Monday, July 8, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council passed a same-sex marriage ordinance in a 12 to three vote, with one abstention. With the ordinance’s passage, the Ogala Sioux Tribe (OST) became first in South Dakota to legalize same-sex marriage [“Oglala Sioux Tribe Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage,” Last Real Indians, 2019.07.17].

Same-sex couple Felipa DeLeon and Monique Mousseau couldn’t get a marriage license for the tribe. They say this legal change comes amidst ongoing anti-LGBT discrimination in Indian Country:

Mousseau says that denial was part of a larger pattern of discrimination and violence. “We have seen and felt and heard the pain, the cries of suicide, sexual assaults, rapes, murders. We have had to come back to different funerals, different events concerning LGTBQ,” she said. “And nothing has changed as far as the gay bashing.”.

The two began petitioning for changes to the laws in May, culminating in the passage of the new ordinance and resolution last week [LRI, 2019.07.17].

I’d criticize our Lakota brothers and sisters for dragging their feet like grouchy and insecure fundie-Publicans on marriage equality, but they might get mad tell me to go back to where I came from… and unlike most folks, they’d have a reasonable case for making that demand.


  1. grudznick 2019-07-17 19:36

    You should try being happy and complimenting somebody someday, Mr. H. Be it a random Republican, Governors Janklow or Noem, they mayor of Aberdeen, the OST, or either of the Messrs. Novstrup. They are all humans who have accomplished something good at some point and only focusing on the negatives is causing the hate to ooze from your pores and probably rotting your gut.

    I, for one, applaud the Oglala Sioux Tribe for taking this step.

  2. Debbo 2019-07-17 20:46

    I wasn’t aware that the OST had continued to discriminate. The loss of life, health and wellbeing that accompanied their intransigence is heartbreaking. I will give them credit for opening their hearts and minds now. And congratulations to the newlyweds, Felipa and Monique!

  3. jerry 2019-07-17 20:58

    Better late than never, good for the Oglala’s to have reached reality for the good of all tribal members.

  4. Roger Cornelius 2019-07-18 00:41

    The original Oglala Sioux Tribal constitution was written by white men in Washington, D.C. in 1935.
    Upon recent years the tribe was finally able to change some language and add laws, but still required D.C. approval.
    Some may recall a few years ago when the tribe removed Cecelia Fire Thunder as president for attempting to open a reservation based abortion clinic. She was eventually impeached for this attempt because there was no abortion law in the tribal constitution.
    The Sioux believed that there were 5 genders in their society and often referred to them as ‘2 Spirit’. The ‘2 Spirits’ were revered members of the tribe and their craftsmanship and art was a premium to own or to be given as a gift.
    Why wasn’t gay marriage approved years ago? The short answer is that many tribal council members are hesitant to make any changes to the constitution because it may lead to receivership or even state jurisdiction.
    That is a stupid excuse, but on the other hand remember so much of the idiocy employed by the South Dakota legislature is also stupid.
    I just hope that this brings some happiness to many of the LGBTQ couples that have had to live in fear and shame for so many years.

  5. happy camper 2019-07-18 08:56

    The backstory is interesting but the deeper point remains they had to leave the reservation to be safe. They were threatened and gay-bashed by their own people, had to seek tolerance and acceptance elsewhere, so while it’s fine the law was brought up to date the articles also imply it’s still dangerous for gay people on the reservation. Those attitudes and behavior should be condemned in the strongest possible terms but I always sense a different standard is set depending on the “race.”

  6. Roger Cornelius 2019-07-18 18:24

    Happy, why would you expect standard depending on “race”? Hate and intolerance are just that and exist on and off the reservation.
    In fact, hate crimes of all sorts have been on the increased since Trump was elected.
    Hate crimes don’t go away just because same-sex marriages are now legal on the reservation.

  7. happy camper 2019-07-18 22:05

    No, I’m saying Native Americans are being given too much of a pass on their own discrimination against other gay Native Americans, and it’s darn close to the lesbian couple saying hey, the white people are to blame cause our culture didn’t used to be like this before they came which is absurd on its face. They don’t feel safe on the reservation, had to leave even though they didn’t want to and sought refuge where they are an ethnic minority. Yet we don’t hear the voices condemning the Native American discrimination on the reservation itself. If they had been mistreated in Rapid City by white people, even allegedly, like the children and spilled beer, this blog would have gone wild, but behavior on the reservation is not held to the same standard as the broader society.

  8. Roger Cornelius 2019-07-18 22:40

    That’s absurd on its face, you don’t know what motivated the tribal council to finally make same-sex legal.
    Were they the harrowing stories of how the lesbian couple had to flee the reservation when other LGBTQ couples remained?
    Over the years I lived on the reservation that didn’t feel threatened, not sayin that it didn’t happen.
    What I am saying is that the reservation isn’t that much different from any place else.
    I don’t know the circumstances under which this couple were threatened, but they obviously were.
    The end result is that now that same-sex is legal they will find some protections and safety.

  9. happy camper 2019-07-18 22:45

    It’s only socially acceptable to criticize white people, and by white people themselves. Like Deb calling them pasty face, and Chris Matthews recently asking Kamala Harris “How do you not hate white people?” It’s strange in my mind to not have the same expectations for all people so that color and ethnicity is irrelevant.

  10. happy camper 2019-07-18 22:53

    I’m talking about the actual threats the lesbian couple received and that they still feel the reservation is not safe. The changes in the law, fine, they seemed to say it was more about the new leadership. If there is ingrained homophobia on the reservation, taking their word for it, that’s a different story. I’m waiting to see what my gay Native friend who lived on Pine Ridge has to say about this story. I’ll trust him over anything else.

  11. Roger Cornelius 2019-07-18 23:43

    Trust your friend above all else if you choose, that’s fine.
    I’ll take the experiences of my now deceased brother who died from AID’s a few years back. He lived relatively trouble free on the reservation most of his life, the men he worked with, construction, were not put off by his sexuality, unless there events he didn’t tell me about.
    It puzzles me why you insist on making this a racial issue when it isn’t.

  12. Debbo 2019-07-19 00:05

    Oh pasty faced HC, calm down.😉 Homophobia is everywhere that Christianity put it in the US. Of course that includes reservations. It’s such a widespread thing it didn’t seem worthwhile to point out the obvious.

    Homophobia continued to exist after Minnesota voters approved marriage for all at the ballot box. I didn’t feel moved to point that out either. 🙄

  13. happy camper 2019-07-22 15:40

    My friend finally got back to me he has a weird schedule, in any case he said he was NEVER threatened on the Pine Ridge Reservation for being gay but he was called the very bad F name a few times (which didn’t bother him much). Of course I’d believe him before others, including the gals in the Argus Leader article we can’t just assume their perceptions are correct. I’m not convinced you can use Christianity to blame for homophobia since it occurs around the globe and I remember reading a book (many years ago) about gay, lesbian, etc relationships in Native American history and while sometimes it was recognized and treated with respect that was not always true.
    There were all different sorts of tribes and belief systems. I’m saying it’s racial because the gals tried to say in the Argus Leader article, or so it seemed to me, that homophobia was caused by whites (Anglo Saxon …). I want to talk to my friend again after sending him the link to the Argus article to see what he thinks about their perceptions and if he knows of others experiencing something similar. I wonder if it may have more to do with one the gals being law enforcement and a pushback against authority figures.

  14. happy camper 2019-07-22 15:53

    And also we have a tendency to believe people who accuse others, BUT, maybe we should be more skeptical. Turns out Al Franken might not be as horrible as described.

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