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Navajo Nation official: N.M. court ruling has no effect on tribe’s gay marriage ban

Friday, December 20, 2013
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FARMINGTON, N.M. — A Navajo Nation official says the tribe’s own law prohibiting same-sex marriage isn’t affected by the New Mexico Supreme Court’s decision legalizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples in New Mexico.

Navajo-NationDeswood Tome, an adviser to Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, told The Daily Times that the tribe’s own law prohibiting same-sex marriage still stands.

“We are upholding the law as currently enacted,” Tome said.

“The purposes of marriage on the Navajo Nation are to promote strong families and to preserve and strengthen family values,” the law states.

But Jared Touchin, spokesman for the Office of the Speaker, said the court decision has the potential to make people, including Navajo lawmakers, rethink the issue.

That law enacted in 2005 says same-sex marriage says same-sex marriage is “void and prohibited” but it also recognizes marriages created outside tribal lands.

There are currently eight Native American tribes which allow same-sex marriage, including the Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon, the Santa Ysabel Tribe in California, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington State, and the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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