Dalila Ali Rajah
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Eight LGBT Native Americans You Should Know

Heather Purser


Heather Purser, a 29-year-old seafood diver for Washington's Suquamish Tribe, spent four years pushing for her tribe to adopt a law recognizing same-sex marriages. Out since she was a teen, Pursser decided after college to approach her tribal council and ask for the change. Members said they'd consider it. Years later, she returned and asked again — this time reportedly demanding a voice vote, according to the Associated Press

"Everyone said aye. No one said nay," Purser told the AP. Her family was in the audience, beaming proudly.

On August 1, 2011, the Suquamish Tribe extended marriage rights to same-sex couples on its reservation (more than a year before the state voted on marriage equality). It was only the second tribe in the U.S. to do so (Oregon's Coquille Tribe first recognized same-sex marriages in 2005), and everyone admitted it wouldn't have happened without Purser standing up for her beliefs.

Photo courtesy of Cameron Karsten.


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