Gay couple obtains marriage license legally within OK borders

Gay couple obtains marriage license legally within Oklahoma borders

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

Jason Pickel and his partner, Darren Blackbear were all smiles as they showed off the treats, centerpieces, and decorations for their big day.

"Even on a budget we're going to do it up right," said Pickel, excited.

The Oklahoma City couple will get married on Halloween night.

"It's been a long road," said Pickel.

Pickel and Blackbear have been together for nine years.

"I'm 45 and I didn't think that I would ever be getting married," said Blackbear.

Pickel and Blackbear were going to get married in Iowa, but instead of traveling out of state, they drove an hour to Concho and obtained their marriage certificate at the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribal Court.  Although Oklahoma has a constitutional ban against same sex marriage, laws in the Cheyenne-Arapaho nation do not define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Blackbear is a member of the Cheyenne-Arapaho tribe, which is how Pickel and Blackbear were able to obtain their license.

"We're just super excited," said Pickel, "and we're hoping that everybody will soon have equality across America."

The only thing missing from their license is a signature from their officiant-- Blackbear's father.

"My father has always fought for civil rights and equality and so that's one of the reasons why we wanted to include them," said Blackbear.

Blackbear says this will be his father's first time officiating a same sex marriage, his father's only request-- for Blackbear and Pickel to write their own wedding vows.

"I was talking with my mother I was like, 'God I hope that I don't get all emotional and weepy and start crying,' and she started laughing," said Blackear.

Blackbear and Pickel are still working on their vows, but as they sit down together in their Northwest Oklahoma City apartment, it's pretty clear they know what they love about each other.

"I used to be a wallflower, I used to be really shy, and really quiet," said Blackbear, looking at Pickel, "but he kind of brought me out of that."

"Darren has kept me centered," said Pickel, looking at Blackbear, "and kept me grounded."

As Pickel and Blackbear finalize all the last minute wedding details, leaders in Oklahoma's LGBT Community say their marriage is a big statement.

"It certainly creates an environment for people that come behind them to follow suit," said Scott J. Hamilton, Director of the Cimarron Alliance.

Hamilton says Pickel and Blackbear's marriage also draws attention to the fight for marriage equality in Oklahoma.  Although the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) allows same sex couples to file for federal benefits, Oklahoma does not recognize same sex unions under the constitutional ban.

"Unfortunately, the state of Oklahoma even though it happens within the state boundaries still won't be recognizing their marriage," said Hamilton.

Blackbear and Pickel, like many other married same sex couples, have a long road ahead in their fight for equal rights, but at the end of the day, they see themselves as two adults making a decision to spend the rest of their lives together.

"I don't think marriage is a piece of paper," said Pickel, "it's love between two people, but that piece of paper is very important."

Blackbear and Pickel's wedding will be open to the public.

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