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Austin Cline

Navajo President Vetoes Gay Marriage Ban

By May 4, 2005

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The Navajo Nation Council tried to ban gay marriage, but Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. vetoed it. This made gay Navajos happy, but the Council could still override the veto, so the debate isn't over yet.

Indian Country Today reports:

Shirley said the law would generate feelings of disharmony and disunity among Navajos and violates a central Navajo belief in goodwill. ''The legislation veiled a discriminatory aspect in the guise of family values, which goes against the Navajo teaching of non-discrimination and doing no psychological or physical harm,'' Shirley said.

Sherrick Roanhorse, Navajo, told Indian Country Today that the traditional Navajo way honors the Naadleh or two-spirit persons, and that the council act discriminates. ''This act is one that divides the Navajo people and promotes discrimination against gay Navajo people. This is wrong. Traditionally, Navajo people are tolerant and do not promote divisions among their people. Respecting all kinship is the foundation of our people, the family,'' Roanhorse said.

''Naadleh is a term to describe a two-spirit person. Some say a true two-spirit is a hermaphrodite and try to justify discrimination against those who may not be hermaphrodites, gay people. Today, Naadleh has evolved into a broader term that includes all gay people. Naadleh are essential to the Navajo way of life. They exist in our history, creation stories, songs, and ceremonies.''

I haven't seen anything on what exactly was motivating the Council and this article makes their actions seem very incongruous with Navajo beliefs. There must be more to the story and I hope that the press continues to report on it so that more information comes out.

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