News (USA)

Native American tribe votes to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples

Native American tribe votes to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples

The Suquamish Native American Tribe in Washington state’s Kitsap County on Monday voted to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The change in tribal law came after a four-year campaign by a lesbian tribal member, 28-year-old Heather Purser.

The Tribal Council held a public hearing on the ordinance change in June and formally adopted it in a unanimous vote Monday.

The new law allows the tribal court to issue a marriage license to two unmarried people, “regardless of their sex,” if they at least 18 years old and at least one of them is an enrolled member of the Suquamish Tribe. […]

Michelle Hansen, Suquamish Tribal attorney, said the Suquamish ordinance does not have effect anywhere else unless that jurisdiction decides to recognize same-sex marriages conducted elsewhere.

While gay marriage is still illegal in Washington state, the Legislature this year approved a measure recognizing same-sex unions from other jurisdictions.

In 2009, state lawmakers approved the so-called “everything but marriage” laws, granting same-sex couples many rights.

At least one other tribe — the Coquille Indian Tribe in Coos Bay, Ore. — also recognizes same-sex marriage.

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