LOS ANGELES — A Native American tribe in the northwestern state of Washington has legalized gay marriage, becoming the second US tribe to do so, legal representatives said Wednesday.
The law — proposed by a young lesbian member of the Suquamish tribe around two years ago — was unanimously approved by the seven members of the tribal council. The tribe has about 1,050 members.
“It was not controversial among the tribal members, among the community, and the elders of the community supported the young tribal member’s request,” said Michelle Hansen, an attorney for the tribe.
“It is part of our tradition and our culture to be inclusive, to accept people who may be different.”
Six US states — Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa, New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire — as well as the US capital Washington, have legalized gay marriage, but such unions are not recognized at the federal level.
Recognized Native American tribes enjoy limited self-rule in the United States, where they are considered “domestic dependent nations” and often have their own governments, constitutions and court systems.
“The tribe has its own laws,” Hansen said. “We do not guarantee that anybody else will find those same values… This applies within the tribe and covers the tribal people.”
The United States is home to some two million Native Americans, who trail national averages in income and health.