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Navajo Nation again considers legislation to repeal same-sex marriage ban

Photo by VibraCobra23 via www.flickr.com
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News brief

Legislation to recognize same-sex marriage is back before the Navajo Nation Council.

Both the council and the public had mixed reactions to a similar proposal earlier this year, and it was eventually withdrawn.

The legislation would repeal a 2005 same-sex marriage ban in the tribal nation, which lies within New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. It also includes revisions to spousal property rights and employee benefits.

Council Member Eugene Tso introduced the legislation.

“This is all I ask of you, my people all over: When are we going to stop discriminating?” Delegate Tso asked during a committee meeting in April. “It hurts them.”

In that meeting, council members voted against it.

Many objections from the council and public were based on some people’s Christian beliefs that gay marriage should not be legal.

Jennifer Nez Denetdale teaches Indigenous gender and sexuality at the University of New Mexico.

“The forces of colonialism — including an American education, introduction of Christianity and the ‘civilizing’ program through the federal government — have led to this loss in our memory that at one time, depending on who you talk to, we recognized three to five genders,” Nez Denetdale said at that same April meeting.

Eventually, Tso withdrew the legislation, and reintroduced it last week. The Navajo Nation’s summer session starts July 18.

It is set to be heard in the Health Education & Human Services Committee first, but that date hasn’t been posted, as of Friday.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2022 KUNM. To see more, visit KUNM.

Emma Gibson