NAVAJO NATION (KRQE) –The Navajo Nation is looking to legalize same-sex marriages. It has been illegal for same-sex couples to marry in the Navajo Nation since 2005. “We’ve been working since 2005. onward until today to repeal that law. And you can see it’s been over two decades now,” said Alray Nelson, the director of Navajo Nation Pride.
Since 2005, the dine marriage act prohibited same-sex marriage in the Navajo Nation. Now tribal leaders want to change that law. “So it does seem like more and more tribes are accepting same-sex marriage and those tribes that have same-sex marriage bans in place are slowly undoing them or invalidating them, but there are still a handful of tribes that have those bans,” said Anne Tweedy, a law professor at the University of South Dakota who also studies tribal law.
The bill, sponsored by tribal councilman Eugene Tso, allows members of the same sex to get married as well as allow these couples to benefit from each other’s insurance, build on tribal land together and other rights heterosexual marriages have.
However, the bill only allows the traditional Navajo marriage ceremony to take place between a man and a woman. Federal laws like the same-sex marriage ruling passed by the supreme court in 2015 do not apply to the Navajo Nation. “They can vary their interpretations according to their culture and tradition, and that the idea there is that would help sustain tribal sovereignty and keep enable tribes to keep their separate cultures intact,” said Tweedy.
If the bill is passed, the LGBT+ community says it will send a strong message to other Native American tribes. “It actually sends a message across the country and across the United States that the largest tribal nation in the US. It states that the largest tribal nation in the US is inclusive,” said Nelson.
The bill is in a public comment period right now and the bill is expected to be voted on by the tribal council in July.