Indian Nations Struggling With Marriage Equality

Written by scott on May 9th, 2013

Although three tribes have endorsed it, marriage equality is still a divisive issue in many Native American communities. The Miami Herald reports:

With more Native Americans making similar demands, the Suquamish tribe is one of three that have signed off on marriage by same-sex couples, laws that apply only on their land. Legal analysts predict that more tribes will follow, giving new rights to what many Native Americans call “two-spirit” individuals, who carry both a feminine and masculine spirit. Still, the issue is far from settled in Indian country.

The tribes are subject to some of the same divisions that mark American society as a whole:

“God created woman for man, and when you try to rewrite creation you can expect judgment to fall on your people,” tribal elder Doug Emery said. He ran for the tribal council and lost in Monday’s primary, but he hopes there’s enough turnover on the council to scrap the law after the June general election.

But it wasn’t always this way:

Scholars note that before their introduction to Christianity, many tribes accepted their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members as “two spirits,” even giving them added respect because they were thought to have special powers. Consequently, they say, same-sex marriage is easier for many tribal members to accept, though it still kicks up plenty of controversy.

Of the 566 recognized tribes in the US, only 3 currently recognize marriage equality.


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