Navajo Nation Lawmaker Introduces Marriage Equality Legislation

Navajo Nation is debating the legalization of marriage equality.

In America, there is a big difference in the rights of same-sex couples depending on which tribe they belong to. The Navajo Nation is the largest tribe that does not allow same-sex couples to have the same rights to marry as straight couples. As a result, a legislator has introduced a marriage equality bill to remedy this.

While the Navajo Nation has taken steps to protect the rights of its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer citizens - the Navajo tribal government enacted an “Equality Act” that makes it illegal to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity - the tribe still does not allow or recognize same-sex marriage.

Delegate Tso wants to appeal sections of the Diné Marriage Act

The Navajo Nation is currently in the midst of a debate over the Diné Marriage Act, a law that was passed in 2005 and prohibits same-sex marriages. Last month, Navajo Council Delegate Eugene Tso sponsored a bill that would repeal or make neutral certain sections of the act.

If the bill is passed, it would have a profound impact on the rights and benefits of LGBTQ married couples in the Navajo Nation. At present, marriage provides spouses with certain rights and benefits, including health care and property division, but this only applies to straight couples.

Hear what the Navajo Nation has to say about same-sex marriage

Before being debated by four committees, probably around Summer or Fall, the bill introduced by Mr. Tso was first reviewed by the community in a series of public hearings over five days. During these meetings, 49 people spoke in favor of allowing and recognizing same-sex marriages, while 36 people spoke against it.

Many of those who opposed same-sex marriage did so on religious grounds, citing Biblical teachings. They argued that marriage was a sacred institution between a man and a woman and that permitting LGBTQ+ couples to wed would be an affront to religious beliefs and traditions. 

Supporters of same-sex marriage argue that everyone should have the right to marry, regardless of sexual orientation. They point out that those who oppose such unions are using discriminatory arguments dating back to colonialism.

Others also recalled that in the Navajo culture, there is a belief that each person has two spirits. One spirit is male, and the other is female. This is known as “Nádleehí.” So they believe that marriage should be defined as a union between two people, regardless of their gender.

The Navajo Nation has made great strides in recent years when it comes to protecting the rights of its LGBTQ+ community. However, there is still work to be done to legalize same-sex marriage. Delegate Eugene Tso’s bill is a step in the right direction, and we hope to see the bill passed soon.

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Friday, 08 December 2023