Push for equality in Navajo Nation
December 30th, 2013
The Navajo Nation is a semi-autonomous territory slightly larger than West Virginia occupying portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico. About 175,000 Navajo live there, along with some Paiute and Hopi.
Aljazeera discusses an effort to bring marriage equality to the nation.
Alray Nelson, founder of the Coalition for Navajo Equality, says he wants the Navajo Nation to respect gay relationships like two of the states that surround its territory — New Mexico, where gay marriage was legalized this month, and Utah, where it was recently ruled legal but faces a mounting appeal.
“There’s no organized faction against this, like in the fight (for) Proposition 8 in California,” said Nelson, 27, whose organization is seeking to make tribal legislators review a 2005 tribal ban on gay marriage early next year.
Michigan has its first same-sex marriage
March 15th, 2013
The head of an American Indian tribe in Michigan signed a law approving same-sex marriage on Friday, joining at least two other tribes nationwide in doing so, then immediately wed a gay couple who had been together for 30 years but never thought they would see this day come.
Dexter McNamara, chairman of the 4,600-member Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in northern Michigan, wed Tim LaCroix, 53, and Gene Barfield, 60, of Boyne City. After McNamara read the couple’s vows and led the ceremony in English, a member of the tribe followed and conducted a traditional tribal ceremony in their language before dozens of wellwishers.
While the Little Traverse Bay Bands comes third in the list of Indian Nations, it is an important addition.
The impact of the Little Traverse Bay decision was unclear, though Fletcher said he thought it would carry weight with other tribes. Little Traverse Bay Bands was an influential, average-sized tribe that has been, along with some other Michigan tribes, “very much in the forefront of some good progressive tribal governance measures in the last couple decades.”
“We’ve been a role model, I think, for the federally recognized tribes of Michigan and it seems like we’re out in front — and not taking anything away from the other federally recognized tribes — but, you know, it seems like we kind of opened the door for other tribes and I think other tribes will follow,” he said.
Same sex marriage passes vote in Michigan and could soon be legal
March 6th, 2013
… but only if you are Odawa. (Petoskynews)
The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians inched closer to becoming the third tribe in the nation to legally recognize gay marriage Sunday.
A 5-4 tribal council vote Sunday passed an amended statute allowing same-sex couples to wed and be recognized by the tribal government, according to draft tribal minutes released Tuesday afternoon.
The statute now goes to the tribal chairman, who can either sign the statute into law, or veto the proposed changes.
Second Indian Tribe adopts marriage equality
August 2nd, 2011
In 2008 marriage equality established itself in southern Oregon. Now Washington State can be the site for same-sex marriages as well. Provided, of course, that you are a registered member of the appropriate Indian tribe.
The Tribal Council held a public hearing on the ordinance change in June and formally adopted it in a unanimous vote Monday.
The new law allows the tribal court to issue a marriage license to two unmarried people, “regardless of their sex,” if they at least 18 years old and at least one of them is an enrolled member of the Suquamish Tribe.
Indian Tribe Recognizes Same-Sex Marriage
August 20th, 2008
The Coquille, a Native American tribe in southern Oregon have become the first in the United States to decide to recognize same-sex marriage (The Oregonian).
As a federally recognized sovereign nation, the tribe is not bound by Oregon’s constitution. And on May 8, the tribe adopted a law that recognizes same-sex marriage and extends to gay and lesbian couples all the tribal benefits of marriage.
And while the state cannot interfere in inter-tribal matters, the planned marriage between Kitzen and Jeni Branting could play a part in a larger legal question.
Because the Coquille is federally recognized, a marriage “occurring within the tribe would actually be federally recognized,” Gilley said. And that would violate the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that says the federal government “may not treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose.”
As a result, the marriage between the Brantings – who share the same last name after changing it to reflect their commitment – could become a test case if challenged by the federal government. Gilley said it could test the boundaries of tribal independence nationwide. .
“This could be a test of sovereignty,” he said.