Suquamish Native American Tribe Approves Same-Sex Marriage

Suquamish Native American Tribe Approves Same-Sex Marriage

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Native Americans, the good folks who lived on American soil ages before white folks showed up and robbed them of their land, are hardly the archaic teepee-dwellers you might conjure up at first thought.

Washington State’s Suquamish Tribe is officially more liberal than the United States, having extended marriage rights to same-sex couples within the tribe. The decision, initially expected to be controversial, turned out to be a no-brainer for the Suquamish Tribal Council.

Heather Purser, a 28-year-old who lives in Seattle but was raised in Kitsap County, has been trying to get the tribe’s law changed for about four years. She made the most progress at the tribe’s general council in March.

During that meeting of the tribe’s entire enrolled membership, she stepped to the microphone asking for recognition for gay couples. The tribe’s leadership said they would continue to consider it, she said.

When Purser sat down people around her told her she needed to get up again and request a vote of the entire audience.

“One of my cousins said, ‘They’re just going to keep dragging their feet,’” Purser said.

She once again made her request, this time asking for a vote and expecting some opposition. “I was expecting a major fight. I didn’t think anyone would support me,” she said.

If there were any dissenters, they were not loud enough for Purser to hear them.

The new law went into effect Monday, and will allow any couple over the age of 18 to wed, regardless of gender, as long as one of the partners is an enrolled member of the Suquamish Tribe.

The Suquamish are hardly the first Native American group to extend marriage equality to their LGBT members. In 2009 the Coquille Indian Tribe, located in Oregon, set the precedent.

Congratulations to the tribe. You’re an inspiration to the rest of the world!


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