On July 26, the 25th Navajo Nation Council’s Health, Education, and Human Services Standing Committee (HEHSC) approved legislation that recognizes same-sex marriages within the Navajo Nation. 

The legislation has several other committees and hurdles to go through before becoming law.

The legislation would amend other provisions within the Navajo Nation Code, but the traditional Navajo wedding ceremony involving a man and a woman would remain unchanged. 

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 

“We need to come to an agreement for our Navajo couples so they can identify their beneficiaries,” HEHSC Chair Vince James said in a statement. “The couples who decide to share their lives together should be able to make these decisions.” 

Traditional ceremony aside, there are other issues that can arise, such as when same-sex couples get married at the state level but return home to conduct same-sex traditional marriages.

“Because there isn't a traditional wedding ceremony that involves same-sex couples, there is a concern about who will enforce upholding traditional marriages as they stand,” James said, adding the legislation fundamentally addresses spousal rights that are already afforded to male and female unions. 

Since 2005, same-sex marriages have been prohibited when the Navajo council overwhelmingly voted to pass the Diné Marriage Act, overriding a presidential veto of the act. 

The legislation will now move forward to the Law and Order Standing Committee.

“If there are no amendments, as it stands, this legislation is about marriage and I understand where the legislation is coming from,” James said. “If amendments come in regarding enforcement, punishment and penalties, it will make a difference in how I vote.”

During HEHSC’s regular meeting, the legislation was approved with a vote of two in favor, one opposed, two excused, and James abstaining.

More Stories Like This

Native News Weekly (October 1, 2023): D.C. Briefs
Geoffrey Blackwell Named NCAI's General Council and Chief of Staff
Assemblymember James C. Ramos Remembers Sen. Feinstein's Commitment to Sacred Sites
Federal Shutdown Averted Through a Stopgap Bill
Orange Shirt Day Observed on Friday on the Grounds of Closed Tomah Indian Industrial School

Stand with us in championing Indigenous journalism that makes a difference. Your support matters.

Support our Indigenous-led newsroom as we shed light on critical issues, such as the painful history of Indian Boarding Schools. To date, we've published nearly 200 stories dedicated to this important topic, providing insights and awareness to a global audience. Our news is freely accessible to all, but its production demands resources. That's why we're reaching out to you this month for your generous contribution.

For those who commit to a recurring donation of $12 per month or more, or make a one-time donation of $150 or greater, we're excited to offer you a copy of our upcoming Indian Boarding School publication. Additionally, you will be added to our Founder's Circle. Together, we can ensure that these vital stories continue to be told, shared, and remembered.

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online StaffEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Native News Online is one of the most-read publications covering Indian Country and the news that matters to American Indians, Alaska Natives and other Indigenous people. Reach out to us at [email protected].