via Out Magazine, by Jon Roth
Purser began speaking with her tribe about same-sex marriage in 2007. A year later, she addressed the tribal council, which cautiously encouraged her cause.
She did her research: contacting a tribe that had recently passed a similar law, requesting copies of their ordinance, reviewing it with an attorney, and translating it into Suquamish.
After three years, she put her petition to a vote at a council meeting. “Everyone said, ‘If you do that, it’ll kill your dream. We have to do this slowly,’ ” she says.
Purser demanded a vote anyway. In a room of 300 people, not one dissented. In August of 2011, her dream became law.
This isn’t the first victory for queer Native Americans. In 2006, the First Nations Two Spirit Collective formed, creating a political platform for LGBT native people.
In 2008, the Coquille tribe of North Bend, Ore., became the first to allow same-sex marriage. This summer, the Suquamish became the second.
Two months later, the Oglala Sioux tribe of Pine Ridge, S.D., issued a proclamation in support of LGBT equality, declaring it “time to ignite the civil rights movement of the 21st century.”
Like smallpox and whiskey, homophobia was a Western import, codified once the U.S. and Canada became nations. Government-run boarding schools spearheaded this reeducation: Students were given Western names, clothes, and haircuts, along with a set of foreign values.
Dylan Rose, 24, who describes himself as a mix of Plains Cree, Scottish, Irish, and French, deeply resents the lasting cultural impact of those schools, which flourished through the 1970s.
“They taught us not to be Indian,” he says. “We’re devalued because of same-sex relationships now, and that’s not how it used to be.”
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