Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

‘The Moral High Ground’: Suquamish Native American Tribe Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

A small Native American tribe in northwestern Washington state has legalized same-sex marriage, Agence France-Presse reports.

The Suquamish tribe, which numbers around 1,050 members and is located in Kitsap County, is the second U.S. Native American tribe to legalize gay marriage. The decision to do so was unanimous among the seven members of the tribal council.

Marriage equality for the Suquamish tribe.

“It was not controversial among the tribal members, among the community, and the elders of the community supported the young tribal member’s request,” Michelle Hansen, an attorney for the tribe, told Agence France-Presse.

The “young tribal member” Hansen spoke of is Heather Purser, a lesbian who proposed legalizing same-sex marriage two years ago. Through persistent effort, she was able to convince her tribe to embrace something that the majority of U.S. states still do not allow.

“We are open and tolerant, and we want to make sure our members are offered the opportunity to be happy and free in their lives,” Leonard Forsman, chairman of the Suquamish Tribe, told the Seattle Times. “This lined up with our values as a tribe. We don’t discriminate.”

“It is part of our tradition and our culture to be inclusive, to accept people who may be different,” added Hansen.

Six states– Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa, New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire– plus the District of Columbia and the Coquille Native American tribe of southern Oregon have legalized same-sex marriage.

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