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Group wants to repeal Navajo Nation’s ban on same-sex marriage

Sunday, January 5, 2014
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An effort to repeal the Navajo Nation’s same-sex marriage ban has been energized by court decisions in some states to allow such unions.

Navajo-NationAlray Nelson, organizer of a gay and lesbian rights group advocating a repeal of the tribe’s same-sex marriage ban, is looking for new members of the council to introduce a repeal proposal, reports The Albuquerque Journal.

But Council member Lorenzo Bates said no one on the council is pushing for a repeal of the law and that constituents aren’t raising the issue.

An adviser to Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly says the tribal president respects the choice of gay or lesbian Navajos to get married elsewhere, but that the president isn’t making a repeal of the ban a priority.

A Navajo Nation official said last month 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 that state.

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

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.

The Navajo Nation occupies portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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