Same sex marriage in the Navajo Nation

The Arizona Republic published an interesting article on Sunday Nov. 2, at A12, about whether the Navajo Nation might change its position and begin recognizing same sex marriages. In 2005, the Nation enacted the Dine Marriage Act that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman (several states enacted similar laws and/or citizen initiative measures around that same time, e.g. Oregon in 2004). While the legal recognition of same sex marriage is sweeping the nation, the Navajo Nation has not yet revisited the issue.

The Republic article states that the “current Navajo President Ben Shelly has said he’s against changing it [the Dine Marriage Act].” But the article also cites the President’s aide, Deswood Tome, as saying that President Shelly supports any Navajo’s choice to go elsewhere to get married.

Same sex marriage is now legal in Arizona and New Mexico (where most of the Navajo Nation reservation is located), and same sex supporters hope that the issue of marriage equality will gain momentum in the Navajo Nation. In addition, in the current election for a new president, the front runner Joe Shirley Jr. vetoed the gay marriage ban in 2005 but his veto was overridden by the Navajo Nation Council. If he is elected president again, maybe a change in the Nation’s position is in the air?

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