Navajo Nation President Nixes Gay Nups Ban

The president of the Navajo Nation (search) vetoed a measure Sunday that would have banned same-sex marriage (search) on the Indian reservation.

The Tribal Council voted unanimously last month to pass legislation that restricts a recognized union to a relationship between a man and a woman, and prohibits plural marriages as well as marriages between close relatives.

Supporters said the goal was to promote Navajo family values and preserve the sanctity of marriage.

President Joe Shirley Jr. (search) said in a statement released Sunday that he strongly supports family stability 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."

Shirley said the measure also goes against the Navajo teaching of nondiscrimination and doing no psychological or physical harm to others.

However, Shirley said if members of the tribe wanted to take a position for or against same-sex unions, he would support their decision to do so through an initiative rather than a Tribal Council vote.

There was no answer to a call placed to the council speaker's office late Sunday.

The Navajo Nation, which has more than 180,000 residents, spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Same-sex marriages are not allowed in any of those states.

Last year, the Cherokee National Tribal Council in Oklahoma voted to define marriage as between a man and a woman after a lesbian couple successfully filed for a tribal marriage application.