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Oklahoma Cheyenne & Arapaho leader supports marriage equality

Amber Bighorse
Amber Bighorse

By Amber Bighorse

Special to the Paper

The issue of gay marriage is only controversial if we are examining it in the context of religion and how different religions view homosexuality.

In my opinion, if a society has religious freedom, then the issue of marriage equality is an easy one. As we all know, the constitutions of our Tribe and our country guarantee religious freedom. Currently, there are no laws in Cheyenne and Arapaho country that prohibit gay marriage.

Notwithstanding our internal political struggles, we have always been a tolerant, accepting, and caring community; we demonstrate these values through the services we continually provide to those in need.

More than any other people in the free world, Native peoples should be able to understand the kind of discrimination, bigotry, and hatred that is fueled by the fact that differences exist within and between all human beings — differences in the way we live our lives, the way we view family, our religious and spiritual beliefs. White America literally slaughtered our people for those differences.

For centuries, it was acceptable to drive our people from the areas where our ancestors knew how to survive so they could expand into those areas without the threat our Natives infringing on their way of life; it was acceptable to divide our people so that, over time, we would no longer be connected as tribes; it was even acceptable to massacre our ancestors; and when genocide failed, to attempt to assimilate Natives so we would no longer be different. This is our history.

I do not believe in discriminating against others based on our differences as humans, whether those differences are physical, religious, or, with respect to the conversation today, based on sexual orientation. I think that if we, as a community, start contemplating the legitimacy of gay marriages, it would be a step backward.

As of right now, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes are standing out and doing something very forward-thinking by treating our gay brothers and sisters as true equals in this world.

I wholeheartedly support marriage equality, and I am so proud to be a Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal member and leader at this moment in our history.

NOTE: An attorney, Amber Bighorse is lieutenant governor of the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. She issued this statement in conjunction with a special meeting of Tribal members held Friday (October 25) at the Concho headquarters. The meeting was held to discuss the recent approval of a marriage between two men, under provisions of tribal law.

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