Indianz.Com > News > Navajo Nation lawmakers weigh repeal of ‘discriminatory’ marriage law
Seth Damon and Eugene Tso
Navajo Nation Council Delegate Seth Damon, right, sponsored and signed Legislation 0139-23, which aims to repeal Title 9 of the Navajo Nation Code to recognize same-sex marriages. Delegate Damon is joined by former 24th Council Delegate Eugene Tso, left, at the ceremony, which took place on June 23, 2023, the opening day of the Navajo Nation Pride celebration on the reservation. Photo courtesy Navajo Nation Council
Navajo Nation lawmakers weigh repeal of ‘discriminatory’ marriage law
Monday, September 4, 2023

A bill being considered in the Navajo Nation Council repeals the Dine Marriage Act, the controversial tribal law that bars recognition of same-sex unions on the largest reservation in the United States.

The Dine Marriage Act became law in 2005 over the veto of the then-president of the Navajo Nation. It not only bans same-sex unions, it prohibits the tribe from recognizing marriages that are valid in every other jurisdiction throughout the U.S.

Legislation No. 0139-23 repeals the contested law. The measure is sponsored by Delegate Seth Damon, the former Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council, who introduced it on the opening day of the Navajo Nation Pride celebration on the reservation.

“The prohibition against same-sex marriages does not uniformly welcome or support the well-being of all Diné,” Damon said when he introduced the bill on June 23. “The purpose of the legislation I’m sponsoring is to ensure that all Diné are welcome within the four sacred mountains and to recognize all marriages within the Navajo Nation.”

The bill is supported by Diné Equality. The reservation-based group has been working to repeal the law since it was enacted nearly two decades ago.

“The 25th Navajo Nation Council is considering the repeal of the Diné Marriage Act of 2005, a discriminatory law that bans same-sex marriage in the Navajo Nation,” a reservation-based group called Diné Equality said in a petition in support of the repeal.

“With the leadership of former Speaker and Council Delegate Seth Damon, Legislation #0139-23 was reintroduced to recognize marriage equality among the Navajo people and to protect the rights of our Navajo women,” the group said.

Legislation No. 0139-23 was considered by the Navajo Nation Council’s Law and Order Committee last Monday. According to a news release from the legislative body, the measure was advanced at the August 28 meeting despite not being approved by a motion.

The bill must still be considered by the Budget and Finance Committee, the council’s release stated.

Navajo Nation Council: August 28, 2023 Law & Order Committee Regular Meeting