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Marriage act amendment advances again


After a bill (No. 0054-21) introduced by Delegate Eugene Tso in April to amend the Diné Marriage Act to recognize all marriages was pulled for revisions in May, a new bill (No. 0108-22) was introduced in July during the Health, Education, and Human Services Committee’s regular meeting.

At the HEHSC meeting, delegates recommended that the legislation fail and referred it to the Law and Order Committee’s regular meeting, held last Monday.

Delegates voting for the bill so far are Charlaine Tso, Vince James and the sponsor Eugene Tso.

The delegates who have opposed the bill so far are Paul Begay Jr., Edison Wauneka and Edmund Yazzie.

At the Law and Order meeting, Diné who are members of the LGBTQ+ community had the chance to express their thoughts about the bill.

Josie Raphaelito, Navajo Nation Pride program director, was one Diné citizen who expressed her thoughts since she is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. She was born in Shiprock and raised in Ramah.

Raphaelito said she has a background in public health and health policy and she cannot help but think health law and health policy legislation in a situation like this.

“Keep that prevention in mind because we know that there are high rates of suicide across Indian Country but particularly in Navajo,” she said.

“This type of legislation would go a very long way in the prevention efforts to make sure that our Navajo youth are seeing support from the Navajo government,” she said, “support from committee members, from community leaders.”

She said Navajo leaders recognizing and acknowledging what it means to have marriage equality for the Navajo Nation would help Navajo youth.

She also believes that marriage equality is not only about the right to love or who to love.

“With marriage equality comes many other rights,” Raphaelito said. “The right to be next to our loved ones in a hospital as they heal or as they fight for their lives, the right to access health care as a spouse or domestic partner and the right to create a family whether or not those people decide to foster or adopt or either to support and care for the next generation.”

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Raphaelito is married to her wife and said she would love to return home but she would only do it if she knew her and her wife were protected and their marriage was legally recognized.

“You know I want to come home and join my family and community and be a part to build strong foundations for future generations,” she said. “But again, it’s about safety, it’s about respect, and it’s about equity and equality. So making sure that my rights as a Diné woman are protected under law.”

Along with the statements made by the people who attended the meeting were comments attached to the bill, with five supporting and three opposing.

There were no questions or comments from the delegates and they went straight into voting.

The bill now goes to the next committee, Budget and Finance, with a recommended “do pass” by the Law and Order Committee.

After Budget and Finance, the bill will go to the Naabik’íyáti Committee and finally the Navajo Nation Council.

The bill along with the supporting and opposing comments and vote tallies so far can be viewed at with the tracking number 0108-22.

About The Author

Hannah John

Hannah John is from Coyote Canyon, N.M. She is Bit’ah’nii (Within His Cover), born for Honágháahnii (One Who Walks Around), maternal grandfather is Tábaahí (Water Edge) and paternal grandfather is Tódich’ii’nii (Bitter Water). She recently graduated from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s in communications and a minor in Native American studies. She recently worked with the Daily Lobo and the Rio Grande Sun.


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