FARMINGTON – The Navajo Nation Council signed a proclamation for the first time this week recognizing Diné Pride Week, despite not recognizing same-sex marriage as legal.
Diné Pride Week – from June 22 to June 28 this year – has been held since 2017, but this marks the first time the Navajo legislative council recognized the event, passing a proclamation in support of the LGBTQ+ rights events.
“Today is a day that brings light and hope to every portion of our four sacred mountains,” said Council Speaker Seth Damon, during a speech after the signing. “Whether you’re an individual going to middle school right now in Page, Arizona, or you’re having a hard time at Chief Manuelito Middle School, trying to understand who you are in this unpleasant world that we live in right now.”
Damon signed the proclamation outside the Navajo Nation Council’s chambers in Window Rock, Arizona, on Monday. The Nation’s legislative council passed the proclamation earlier that day.
While the rainbow flags were flown over the council chamber in support of the LGBTQ+ community for the first time last year, the Navajo Nation government does not legally recognize same-sex marriage. The Diné Marriage Act was passed in 2005 by the Navajo Nation Council and defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman and prohibits same-sex marriage. There also is not a law protecting LGBTQ+ people from gender-based discrimination.
Diné Pride, an advocacy group, has been working to change that. The group has been working to make identity-based discrimination illegal, and eventually bring a same-sex marriage case to the Navajo Nation Supreme Court.
Navajo Nation Council Delegate Carl Slater also plans to introduce legislation aimed at repealing the Diné Marriage Act and protecting LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination. The Office of Legislative Counsel is reviewing the bill.
“It’s time for us to open up an opportunity to have further discussions in making sure every single person on the Nation has an opportunity to be with their partner, their significant other,” Damon said at the proclamation event, which was streamed live on Diné Pride’s Facebook page.
Damon said it was time to repeal the Diné Marriage Act and protect transgender tribal members from violence.
The Diné Pride organization said it began the event three years ago to “honor our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and two-spirit family members.”
Because of the coronavirus, the pride festivities will be held online, and the theme of this year’s weeklong event is Indigenous LGBTQ+ Youth. A tribal leaders summit on LGBTQ+ policy, a panel with Indigenous LGBTQ+ youth, a panel with Indigenous trans women and a drag show are scheduled.
The week of events will end Saturday with an art showcase and closing ceremonies. A full schedule is posted on the group’s Facebook page.