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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

This Week, the Suquamish Became the Second Tribe in the U.S. to Legalize Gay Marriage

Posted by on Wed, Aug 3, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Washington Post:

On Monday, the Suquamish Tribal Council ratified the people’s wishes and recognized gay marriage, making it only the second tribe in the country known to do so.

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.

It will be up to other courts to decide if unions granted under the Suquamish ordinance will be recognized elsewhere in Washington, said the tribe’s attorney, Michelle Hansen.

This is good news, but its implications stretch beyond marriage equality—a storm is brewing in Indian Country about the limits and power of tribal sovereignty in general and how much civil-regulatory authority the U.S. states have (or don't have) on tribal land. Some are arguing for a tribal marijuana trade. Others are gearing up for a big fight with Big Tobacco and the states over taxation of tobacco on tribal lands. And now two tribes—the Suquamish and the Coquille in Oregon—have legalized gay marriage.

With all of this—plus the new Honor the Treaties campaign—expect to see renewed legal tension and debate in the near future over what, exactly, "tribal sovereignty" means.


Comments (16) RSS

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Baconcat 1
I emailed LaDonna Harris' organization AIO last night about how I make the first steps toward opening the dialogue with my tribe.

Coincidentally, Harris is also Comanche :)
Posted by Baconcat on August 3, 2011 at 4:12 PM · Report this
venomlash 2
@1: What tribe are you, Baconcat?
Posted by venomlash on August 3, 2011 at 4:18 PM · Report this
Baconcat 3
@2: Kwahadi Comanche
Posted by Baconcat on August 3, 2011 at 4:21 PM · Report this
merry 4
Tribal MJ trade makes all kinds of sense...
Posted by merry on August 3, 2011 at 4:46 PM · Report this
better than our stinking legislature! Washington should have been a first state - just like this tribe. Oh well... So much for complacency, legislators with dreams of becoming members of Congress (yee gads!), and lame organizations that talk a lot of talk but can't manage to walk it.
Posted by 73-450SL on August 3, 2011 at 5:03 PM · Report this
Awesome. Let's make this shit happen.
Posted by sahara29 on August 3, 2011 at 6:41 PM · Report this
Okay. Want full sovereignty as a tribe? Good. Here's how you do it.

Revoke your US citizenship, and any benefits of it. No welfare, no military protection, or shared law enforcement information. No visa status if working abroad, as a US citizen anyway. Get in trouble in Germany? Good, call your local tribal council.

Obtain a passport and show it every time you leave your sovereign lands or reservation. Maintain and build your own roads, customs houses, law enforcement and so on, without a dime of Federal or state support. Want to work in the US? Better obtain a visa or green card, since you don't want to be a full citizen.

Or, shut up already, give up the notion of dual citizenship and start acting like Americans.
Posted by Seattleblues on August 3, 2011 at 7:44 PM · Report this
lauramae 8
There has always been a faction that wants to do away with the treaties. And there have been semi-successful movements in the past to do so--Eisenhower's termination period being one of them. States always try to usurp the feds as it relates to tribal sovereignty. SLADE Gorton did it as attorney general in WA and instigated the fishing wars and trampling on the sovereignty of Washington tribes faster than you can say "Governor Stevens." While a senator, Slade made it a priority to legislate narrowing of tribal authority on its own lands. Now with the tea party Hamas party, I'm sure we have quite a few assholes waiting to do the same.

Congress can abrogate treaties. Even the dems aren't a sure bet. Some of the most anti-Indian people: Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman, both dems.

One thing that tribes understand very well, is that Americans as a whole prefer Indians poor and powerless. And they become widely outraged when tribes find ways to become financially successful via taking advantage of lop-sided laws that were never meant to make it easy for tribes.

Posted by lauramae on August 3, 2011 at 7:46 PM · Report this

"Congress can abrogate treaties."

It really is time to ask tribal populations whether they wish to be Americans or not, and treat them according to their answer.

They lost. We won. It sucks, but there you go.
Posted by Seattleblues on August 3, 2011 at 8:14 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 10
What do you get out of posting on SLOG, SB? I asked you before.
Posted by Matt from Denver on August 3, 2011 at 9:35 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 11
@10 trolls gonna troll. Happens with him in other venues too, like Publicola.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on August 3, 2011 at 11:38 PM · Report this
I wish SeattleBlues would go away. So blue. Humanity, zero.
Posted by Kelly O on August 4, 2011 at 12:41 AM · Report this
venomlash 13
@7: They DON'T want, for the most part, full sovereignty on the tribal level. They DO want limited sovereignty, enough to manage their own affairs in a manner consistent with their own traditions but within the framework of the United States.
Now, American Indians living on reservations pay Federal income taxes just the same as you do, and they face the same obligation to military service as the rest of us if the draft should be reinstated. You can quit bitching about them getting money from the government now.
Posted by venomlash on August 4, 2011 at 7:09 AM · Report this
The Honor the Treaties campaign is pale and impotent effort compared to everything else you listed.
Posted by My Great-Great Grandmother was a Cherokee Princess on August 4, 2011 at 9:45 AM · Report this
Why so, MGGGWACP? Because it wants the battle to be fought on billboards instead of in the courtroom?

I'm not picking a fight—I'm genuinely curious to hear your thoughts about the campaign.
Posted by Brendan Kiley on August 4, 2011 at 11:49 AM · Report this
elissa 16
This is one of the biggest issues in Indian Country right now:…

Recent news:…

Carcieri vs. Salazar isn't the same kind of sovereignty issue as gay marriage or tobacco taxation. Those are important decisions that tribes should make for themselves, and I'm glad that the Suquamish Tribe was able to exercise their sovereignty and make this decision based on tradition. The Carcieri decision is a different kind of sovereignty issue that has threatened tribes all over, including Cowlitz (moving land into trust in La Center)--it's really hard for us to perform as fully sovereign nations without having our land base restored. Many of these issues are moot right now for landless tribes because we don't have sovereign lands.
Posted by elissa on August 4, 2011 at 6:33 PM · Report this

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