SUQUAMISH, Wash. -- Should Native American Heather Purser decide to marry her female partner, she can do that in Suquamish now.
On Monday, the Suquamish Tribal Council formally changed its ordinances to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.
The Suquamish ordinance means gay couples are afforded all the rights heterosexual couples are allowed on the reservation and other places in which gay marriages are allowed.
Purser, 28, of Seattle, has been trying to get the tribe's law changed for about four years. She made the most progress at the tribe's general council in March.
During that meeting of the tribe's entire enrolled membership, she stepped to the microphone asking for recognition for gay couples, and for a vote of the entire audience.
If there were any dissenters, they were not loud enough for Purser to hear them.
"Really it was the Suquamish people who approved this," she said. "The general council is really what made everything happen."
The Tribal Council held a public hearing on the ordinance change in June and formally adopted it in a unanimous vote Monday.
The new law allows the tribal court to issue a marriage license to two unmarried people, "regardless of their sex," if they are at least 18 years old and at least one of them is an enrolled member of the Suquamish Tribe.
In 2009 the Coquille Indian Tribe in Coos Bay, Ore., became what many believed to be the first Indian tribe to marry a gay couple, two women from Edmonds, Wash.
Michelle Hansen, Suquamish Tribal attorney, said the Suquamish ordinance does not have effect anywhere else unless that jurisdiction decides to recognize same-sex marriages conducted elsewhere.
The unanimity seen in Suquamish has not been evident elsewhere in the country.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, six states and Washington, D.C. issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Two states recognize same-sex marriages from other states.
Thirty-nine states have legal statutes defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
(Contact Steve Gardner of The Kitsap Sun in Bremerton, Wash., at www.kitsapsun.com/staff/steve-gardner/