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American Indian tribe adopts law recognizing same-sex marriage

An American Indian tribe in Washington state on Monday voted to adopt a new law recognizing same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive]. The law, approved by the Suquamish Tribe [official website] council, extends marriage rights [AP report] to same-sex couples on the tribe's Seattle reservation. The tribe will be permitted to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples as long as each partner is at least 18 years old and one of the two is a member of the tribe. Same-sex marriage remains illegal in Washington, so the marriages may not be recognized by the state. The vote comes four years after a lesbian tribe member began her campaign for gay marriage on the reservation. The Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon is the only other American Indian tribe to recognize same-sex marriage.

New York began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples last week, just one month after Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) [official website] signed the legislation [JURIST report] into law. Same-sex marriage continues to be a controversial and divisive issue through the US, although a recent poll [materials] suggests support for legalization is growing. However, the Minnesota Senate [official website] in May approved [JURIST report] a voter referendum [SF 1308 text] to amend the constitution to ban same-sex marriage. In April, a Montana judge dismissed a lawsuit [JURIST report] that had called for the state to provide legal status to same-sex relationships. Also in April, the Indiana Senate [official website] overwhelmingly approved [JURIST report] an amendment to the state constitution that would ban same-sex marriage or any "substantially similar" status, and the Wyoming Senate [official website] in February approved a bill that would void in Wyoming any same-sex marriages and civil unions [JURIST report] performed in other jurisdictions. In addition to New York, same-sex marriage is currently legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia [JURIST reports].

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