TWO SPIRITS

Marriage Equality Lawsuits Brewing in Navajo Nation

NavajosamesexcoupleMarriage equality may have come to New Mexico and Utah, but you’re still not free to marry in every corner of those states. In Navajo areas, your marriage is null and void.

A reporter interviewed a bunch of leaders in and around the Navajo Nation about marriage equality, and all of them are open to allowing marriage equality. So why don’t they?

Currently, eight tribes across the country allow LGBT members to marry: The Coquille Tribe in Oregon, the Suquamish Tribe in Washington, the Tribal Council of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in Michigan, the Santa Ysabel Tribe in California, the Colville Tribal Council of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation in Washington, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma, and the Leech Lake Tribal Court in Minnesota.

Could this be the year that equality comes to the Najavo Nation? It sure seems that way.

A 2005 law would have to be repealed first, but like DOMA, the Diné Marriage Act has plummeted in popularity since it was first passed. The guy who was president in 2005 now says it should be overturned; the current president wants it overturned; and a reporter was apparently unable to find anyone willing to speak in favor of keeping it.

Navajo activists seem to have settled on a legal strategy to overturn the law, rather than legislative. They’re planning lawsuits and a public education campaign over the coming year. With around 200,000 members, they’re the second largest indigenous tribe (Cherokee has around 300,000 members), so it’ll be a major victory when marriage finally comes.