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Marriage Equality

WATCH: Election Snafu Stalls Navajo Nation’s Repeal of Marriage Ban

WATCH: Election Snafu Stalls Navajo Nation’s Repeal of Marriage Ban


Voters will have to wait for a ballot scandal to be resolved before they can vote for a pro-equality candidate.

Members of the Navajo Nation were supposed to have an opportunity to vote for a pro-equality Presidential candidate this week, but a last-minute decision from the Navajo Supreme Court has delayed that vote indefinitely.

Voters will still have an opportunity to weigh in on other races, but now the Nation will have to hold a special election for President after it was determined that one of the candidates on the ballot was not qualified.

The Navajo Nation has prohibited same-sex marriage since 2005. Candidate Joe Shirley Jr., who was President from 2002 to 2011 and is running for the office again, supports the repeal of the Nation's marriage ban.

During his first tenure as President, Shirley opposed the passage of the marriage ban, but lawmakers at the time were able to override his veto. Shirley later told the organization NativeOUT, "I'm a respecter of all people. With us, the Navajo, everyone has rights. I am a respecter of members from all walks of life. As Navajo people we need to go back to our roots and the teachings of our elders in respecting all walks of life."

Shirley was to slated to face Chris Deschene in Tuesday's election, but Navajo Chief Justice Herb Yazzie has ordered the election to be postponed after it was pointed out that Deschene doesn't fluently speak Navajo. Fluency is a requirement for the Navajo Nation Presidency.

With several thousand absentee ballots already cast, officials will have to start all over with the election. There's currently no scheduled date for the new vote, which likely means months of delay before pro-equality organizers can move to overturn the Nation's marriage ban.

Around the country, there are 10 Native American tribes that have formally embraced marriage equality, though the two largest, the Navajo and Cherokee, remain opposed to same-sex marriage. Because these tribes are federally recognized soverign nations, they are able to make their own laws regarding marriage, and similarly elect independent presidents.

Get up to speed on the latest marriage equality news below:

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Matt Baume