Is the Navajo Nation considering Gay Marriage
Could the Dine Marriage Act of 2005 be revisited for some adjustments?
WINDOW ROCK – a highly debated taboo among the Navajo people is becoming more main stream as the ‘Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and queer’ or (LGBTQ) held a forum with Navajo leaders to discuss gay and lesbian interest, like same sex marriage on the reservation.
The event was held at the Navajo Nation Museum on Friday in Window Rock, AZ- the Navajo Nation Capitol.
The Navajo President adviser Deswood Tome, Arizona State Senator Jack Jackson Jr from Arizona, Navajo Council Delegate Johnathan Hale, and Navajo Nation Chief of Staff for the Navajo Nation Speaker all attended the event. They took questions from the LGBTQ community and the audience.
Deswood Tome, said he spoke with Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly about the complexities of the issue and he said the President respects the gay community, referring to them as the five fingered people in ‘Navajo’ and they are just like everyone else, he said.
Deswood, was also asked directly if the Navajo Nation would allow same sex marriage on the reservation, and he redirected the question to Navajo Council Delegate Johnathan Hale for the answer. Later Hale said the council will have to explore these further.
As for Arizona State Senator Jack Jackson Jr. he spoke of equality and his experience as the first openly gay Native American Politician, he also encouraged the younger people for hosting the forum.
Navajo Council Delegate Johnathan Hale explained and suggest with President Obama mentioning same sex marriage in his Inaugural address, the U.S. government may appropriate funding for the LGBTQ community for things like health care and personal wellness throughout the reservation.
On the other hand, the Navajo leaders were careful not to say exactly what will happen with same sex marriage on the Navajo Nation and if the tribe would actually support a gay marriage bill.
However, they did suggest to the lesbian and gay community to be careful not to push the issue on the Navajo elders that may still be against same sex marriage. Some could debate, Navajo traditional culture does allow same sex marriage, by being the ‘two spirited’ one in the Navajo stories told by shamans or medicine men.
The LGBTQ community said, there forum was to bring some light to the issue of same sex marriage and to eventually have a place in public policy within the Tribe and to consider passing a gay marriage bill.
In 2005, the Joe Shirley administration, a former Navajo President supported same sex marriage on the Navajo Nation, but the support was shot down by a bill Navajo lawmakers passed, the Dine Marriage Act of 2005. Which, defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, prohibits plural marriage and prohibits marriage between family members.
Some community members still think it isn’t a good idea, “I think marriage should remain between a man and a women, being married, you take a sacred oath before god, with the mother of your children, who gave life, and takes care of the family. If we allow this type of bill, like gay marriage, what does that say about our rights as a married person with a women.” said Tempe resident, who wish for his name to remain anonymous and is a member of the Navajo Nation.
This forum will defiantly reignite the debate about same sex marriage on the reservation, until then Navajo lawmakers will continue to debate this highly sensitive issue among the Navajo community, which is considered taboo and should not be discussed. As of Nov. 2012, gay marriage has been legalized in nine US states.
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