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Rod Van Mechelen
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Gays and lesbians have been getting married since the 1970s. This is not about marriage, but about benefits and legal rights. Tribes do not have to defy federal law to extend benefits and confer rights to the non-member partner of a tribal member in a same-sex couple. That can be done under the principle of “close socio-economic ties.” So this is nothing more than a political gesture on a mainstream political issue that does nothing to benefit tribes but, by defying federal law, invites a federal lawsuit that could potentially erode the sovereignty of all tribes. Two tribes have started down this path of defying federal law on mainstream political issues, and more are sure to follow, but the vast majority of American Indians are conservative democrats, and are more likely to make culturally conservative gestures. But conservative, liberal or progressive, tribes invite a host of trouble by defying the federal government over mainstream political issues.
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Aug 3, 2011