Monday, August 8, 2011

The Evolved Suquamish Tribe


Without a doubt, my favorite LGBT story of last week came from right here in Washington state.  The Suquamish Tribe legalized gay marriage.

Washington has domestic partnerships.  Now a little part of Washington has skipped all that, all those halfway steps, and granted honest-to-God marriage.  A tribe of about 1,000 people effectively told the rest of the state, "Eat our dust."

With lesbian tribal member Heather Purser, 28, prodding them into action, the tribal council voted unanimously in favor of same-sex marriage.  Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur, who visited the Suquamish reservation after the news broke, reported on Purser's unique methods:  She once left a derelict car in front of the tribal offices and told tribal chairman Leonard Forsman she would move it only when lesbians and gays could marry.

Has Purser hit upon a new strategy?  Would it work to surround state capitols with broken-down Chevys and Toyotas?

"We wanted to continue our values of being accepting and tolerant and generous to the rights of our people," said Forsman.  "We want to allow our people to be happy and free. Our tradition is to be open."

Brodeur found the Suquamish have experienced so much racism and prejudice that they "never want anyone else to hurt that way, to be singled out, or turned away or forced to suffer for being who they are," she wrote.

That's refreshing, since often those who have suffered respond by making others suffer.  The view of the Suquamish is that *@^# stops here.

And then there's elder Bruce Belmont, who brought his own spice to the subject of same-sex marriage.  "I've been married damned near 50 years, and if I ever get out of it, I'm never going to do it again," said the wag. "Let them do what they want."