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Suquamish Tribe Passes Gay Marriage

By Charlotte Robinson, August 03, 2011
Heather Purser came out before dozens of Suquamish
Tribal members at a general council meeting last March.
She told the tribe she was a lesbian & asked her people
to recognize same-gender marriages at the tribe’s
Washington state reservation. After 4 years of lobbying
tribal members the 28 year old didn’t know how much
support she had. "When I turned around to sit back
down I was shaking," Purser recalled Tuesday. Then
the council put the issue to a voice vote of the people.
"Everyone said aye. No one said nay," Purser said.
So on Monday the Suquamish Tribal Council ratified
the people’s wishes & recognized gay marriage, making
it only the second tribe in the country known to do so.
The new law allows the tribal court to issue a marriage
license to 2 unmarried people, regardless of their sex,
if they’re at least 18 years old & at least one of them is
enrolled in the tribe. Gay marriage is still illegal in the
state, but the Legislature this year approved a measure
recognizing same-gender unions from other jurisdictions,
which include other nations. State lawmakers also have
approved a so-called "everything but marriage" law,
granting same-gender couples many rights but still falls
short of heterosexual couples.
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1 comment:

Heather Purser said...

I came out to my family when I was 16 and decided to campaign for gay marriage in my tribe after college. I wanted to feel accepted by my tribe. I was expecting a fight to be ugly. But I was so shocked. I guess I was expecting the worst out of people. I was expecting the worst out of my people. Everyone said aye as my father and brothers looked on.

"I’m proud that she stood up for herself and took a stand. You bet," said Heather’s father, Rob Purser. "A father’s main concern is that your children are happy, and you do what you can to help them."

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