An American Indian tribe in Washington has become the second in the US to approve gay marriage.

On Monday, the Suquamish Tribal Council voted to give marriage rights to gay couples on its Seattle reservation.

Washington state does not allow same-sex marriage but it does recognise gay unions from other jurisdictions.

The decision makes the tribe the second in the US to grant gay marriage rights, after the Coquille Indian Tribe on the southern Oregon coast.

Lesbian tribal member, 28-year-old Heather Purser, has been campaigning for the tribe to accept gay marriage for the last four years.

She moved away to Seattle, where she met her partner, but returned to this year’s annual membership meeting where she asked elders to reconsider the issue.

To her surprise, they voted in favour.

Speaking to Associated Press. Ms Purser said: “I wanted to feel accepted by my tribe. I was expecting a fight to be ugly. But I was so shocked. I guess I was expecting the worst out of people. I was expecting the worst out of my people.”

Suquamish Tribal chairman Leonard Forsman said the process took “longer than expected” but added that he was “really happy” that equal rights had been granted.