Alas, the state of Washington has not yet followed in the footsteps of New York by legalizing same-sex marriage. However, marriage equality has come to our state. Yesterday, the Suquamish Tribal Council voted to extend marriage equality to same-sex couples, becoming only the second tribe in the nation to do so.
The Suquamish Tribal Council voted Monday to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples on its reservation near Seattle, after the measure gained support from more than 100 tribal members at a meeting this spring.
The new law allows the tribal court to issue a marriage license to two unmarried people, regardless of their sex, if they’re at least 18 years old and at least one of them is enrolled in the tribe.
Those unfamiliar with Indian Country may question how it can be that a tribe whose reservation is in the state of Washington (which does not permit same-sex marriage) can make laws that are in conflict with state law. The answer is that tribes are sovereign nations, who establish governments (tribal councils) and make laws that govern their people.
How ironic that a group of people (Native Americans), who have historically been persecuted since the dawn of our nation are the first in our state to convey the same rights and privileges to all people, regardless of sexual orientation. So while gay and lesbian couples in Washington continue to wait for the day when the state considers them fully equal with regard to marriage, the Suquamish lead the way and we applaud their efforts.