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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