Navajo Nation Council Overrode President’s Veto

Navajo Nation Council Overrode President’s Veto

The Navajo Nation Council overrode the Navajo Nation President’s veto of the Dine Marriage Act of 2005. 62 voted to override, 14 voted against the override, and 12 abstained from voting. The Dine Coalition for Cultural Preservation has released a statement regarding the override. Read the press release below:


The Dine Coalition for Cultural Preservation, want to thank all individuals who supported our effort to urge the Navajo Nation Council to not override the Navajo Nation President, Joe Shirley, Jr.’s veto of the Dine Marriage Act of 2005. We express our heartfelt appreciation to the President of the Navajo Nation for taking a strong stand against legislation that has the highest probability of promoting outright discrimination toward a certain segment of the Navajo Nation society in various actions.

We believe in a society that is just and lives by the Navajo values of tolerance, humility, and inclusiveness. Through our efforts, we have bonded with each other and have created an organization that will continue toward the betterment of the Navajo Nation society. We will also begin reaching out to other grassroots organizations that have recently developed throughout the Navajo Nation. 

We want to express our appreciation to the 14 Navajo Nation Council Delegates who voted no to the override. We admire and commend the strong and humble leadership of the 14 delegates. They include Council Delegates Harriet Becenti, Lorenzo Bedonie, Kee Allen Begay, Jr., Willie Grayeyes, Rex Lee Jim, Ervin Keeswood, Hope MacDonald-Lonetree, Raymond Maxx, Ben Shelly, Harold Wauneka, Harry J. Willeto, Harry Williams, and Ernest Yazzie.

Our journey began on April 22, 2005, when 67 Navajo Nation Council Delegates overwhelmingly voted 67 in favor with none opposed for the enactment of Legislation #0343-05. We were later relieved when President Shirley vetoed the legislation stating same sex marriage was a non-issue in Navajo Nation and was not the cause of domestic dysfunctions in our communities.

Since the President’s veto, members and supporters of the Dine Coalition for Cultural Preservation had four weeks to lobby the 88 Council Delegates who represent 110 Chapter communities throughout the Navajo Nation.

As a result, today June 3rd, we were able to convince five of the 67 to vote no on the override. We also convinced an additional nine to vote no, who did not vote on April 22nd. We were able to come within four votes to uphold the veto.   

We are disappointed the Council Delegates who chose to stay with their original vote did not listen to their conscious. We can only speculate their vote was more about showing the President of the Navajo Nation that they are “the governing body of the Navajo Nation,” rather than protecting the Navajo people and engaging in thoughtful debate.

Once again, with this override, we see the continued power struggle that is hurting our governmental system. The outrage of this result will only add to the growing cries for aggressive governmental reform in the next coming years.