By Alray Nelson, CNE Lead Organizer
The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a historic decision in favor of marriage equality, making it so that same-sex couples will soon have the freedom to marry across all 50 states. This has little to no impact towards how we treat same-sex couples living on the Navajo Nation because of the discriminatory Diné Marriage Act.
Our Nation has a long march towards equality but we can only move forward. I am pleased with the court decision reaffirming our fundamental right to marry who we love, but the Diné Marriage Act is still the law of the land. While the rest of America celebrates this victory, gay and lesbian couples will continue to fight to be treated with respect by our own Nation.
Our President and the Tribal Council have an opportunity to take a stand for our equality. Their support will end 10 years of discrimination towards our couples and their families. Discrimination that does not allow my partner and me to jointly file for a home-site lease so we could build a home alongside our grandparents. Discrimination that does not allow us to access the same health insurance or seek Medicare assistance when were both elderly men. The same discrimination that denies us the right to jointly adopt children so that we may raise a family.
It is this law upheld by the Navajo government that tells couples like us that everything we represent is foreign and that our marriage is somehow not Navajo-enough. All that my partner Brennen and I are fighting for is your acceptance and for complete fairness under Navajo law.
The Navajo people have to have a meaningful conversation about our shared future. Until then, repealing the Diné Marriage Act is the first step in demonstrating to the rest of the world that we are a safe, inclusive home for our LGBT family members.
After celebrating the Court decisions that changed America – let us not forget there are 566 tribes in the United States and 12 sovereign nations protect the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. I am hopeful the Navajo Nation will lead again.