Tuesday, May 03, 2005


When I was but a wee California, my family lived on an Apache reservation in Arizona. We still have friends not only on that reservation, but also in the not-too-distant Navajo and Hopi lands. I've been in Window Rock several times, so I found this story from the seat of the Navajo government especially interesting.

The Tribal Council voted unanimously to ban same-sex marriage, along with plural marriage and marriage among "close relatives" (the story doesn't say how close). But the president, Joe Shirley Jr., vetoed the measure, giving a somewhat unusual explanation for his action. Shirley said in a statement on Sunday that he wouldn't oppose the ban if the people want it and adopt it via initiative, but

the proposed measure said nothing about domestic violence, sexual assault and gangs on the Navajo Nation -- problems that are rampant.

''Same-sex marriage is a non-issue on Navajoland,'' he said. ''So why waste time and resources on it? We have more important issues to address.''

He went on to cite other reasons:
Shirley said the measure also goes against the Navajo teaching of nondiscrimination and doing no psychological or physical harm to others.
This last point should be made more often by liberal politicians (or at least Democrats). Rather than cowering and dodging the issue when marriage equality is mentioned, liberals should have the courage to say that discrimination hurts people, that you need to have a darned good reason to do that. They should put anti-equality people on the spot, and ask them why they want to hurt people who are simply trying to live their lives and be left alone.

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