A Native American tribe from Washington state has taken the steps to formally recognize gay marriage.

The Colville Tribal Council of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation voted on Sept. 5 to recognize same-sex marriages, according to The Wenatchee World. While not all council members were present during the vote, all those who were voted favorably.

Council chairman Michael Finley told the newspaper that the vote was the final step toward full recognition, as LGBT identities had long been recognized (called two-spirit in the tribal vernacular).

Gay couples in the tribe were already allowed to add their spouse to their insurance and other benefits plans.

The total number of U.S. tribes with formal marriage equality reaches six with the Colville Nation.

The Coquille tribe legalized same-sex unions in 2009, while the Suquamish Tribe approved such unions in 2011—one year before state residents voted at the ballot to legalize it in 2012. The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan also began to recognize same-sex marriages this March.

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in Michigan and the Santa Ysabel Tribe of California also recognize gay marriages.

While a state may have approved gay marriage, Native American tribes enact their own laws.


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