Heather Purser, who last summer convinced the Suquamish Tribe in Kitsap County to legalize same-sex marriages, has been awarded Seattle Human Rights Commission’s 2011 Seattle Human Rights Award.
Purser, a commercial diver who lives in Seattle but was raised in Kitsap County off the reservation, went to a tribal meeting last March and said she wanted gay marriage legalized. The vote by tribal members was unanimous.
The tribe amended its marriage ordinance to give same-sex couples all the rights and privileges the tribe’s law gives heterosexual couples.
“We are open and tolerant, and we want to make sure our members are offered the opportunity to be happy and free in their lives,” said Leonard Forsman, chairman of the Suquamish Tribe, in August. “This lined up with our values as a tribe. We don’t discriminate.”
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“Heather received the award because of her tremendous advocacy for (lesbian and gay rights) and the human rights of dignity and equality,” the commission said in a release. “Heather’s courageous leadership speaks directly to the power of young people everywhere.”