NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Marriage equality comes to Washington

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.

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