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Group on Navajo Nation still working towards marriage equality

A booth promoting the repeal of the Dine Marriage Act of 2005. Photo from Marriage Equality for the Navajo Nation / Facebook

The Coalition for Navajo Equality is still working to bring marriage equality to the Navajo Nation.

Same-sex marriages are recognized in three states that border the reservation -- Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. But tribal citizens are being left out because the Dine Marriage Act bars unions between persons of the same sex.

"These states surrounding the Navajo Nation are taking big steps forward — steps for equality,” Alray Nelson, the lead organizer of the Coalition for Navajo Equality, told The New York Times. “The Navajo Nation is not.”

Nelson is an aide to Joe Shirley Jr., who vetoed the Dine Marriage Act when he was president of the tribe. The Navajo Nation Council overrode him and the bill became law.

“Our culture dictates acceptance,” Shirley, who is running again for president, told the Times. “They are part of our family, they are our children, and we don’t need to be partial.”

Shirley's successor, President Ben Shelly, supports repeal of the Dine Marriage Act. Shelly remains in office despite losing his re-election bid.

A repeal, however, doesn't seem to be on the council's agenda. One delegate, Otto Tso, told the Times he doesn't support same-sex marriage.

“It’s not for us,” Tso told the paper. “We have to look at our culture, our society, where we come from, talk to our elders.”

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Among the Navajos, a Renewed Debate About Gay Marriage (The New York Times 2/22)

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