September 9, 2013
Last Thursday, the Colville Tribal Council voted to allow marriage equality in the tribe, bringing the number of tribal jurisdictions in the U.S. that allow same-sex couples to marry to six. The Wenatchee World reports:
Council Chairman Michael Finley said tribes have always known that gay people — who they call Two-Spirited Peoples — have a special place in their society.
Finley said tribal culture has long recognized that some people are born a certain gender, and are drawn to people of the same gender. “They’ve always been accepted,” he said. Now, tribal law will also treat them equally and with respect, he said.
He said there were no objections to the amendment recognizing gay marriage when the final council vote was taken, but not all 14 council members were present.
The descendants of 12 tribes make up the roughly 9,360-member Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. About half of those members live on the tribe’s reservation in north-central Washington, about halfway between Seattle and Spokane.
The other five tribes that have legalized marriage equality are the Coquille Tribe of Oregon, the Suquamish tribe of Washington, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians of Michigan and the Santa Ysabel Tribe of California. Because of the Supreme Court’s June decision invalidating Section 3 of DOMA, these marriages are now recognized by the federal government in the same way that marriages from the 13 marriage equality states are.