“I think it’s important that our leaders understand that this is what our community wants,” local LGBTQ activist Vincent Grant said.
Grant grew up on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation, and after moving away for a few years, he came back home determined to make a change for himself and fellow LGBTQ+ members of the tribe.
“How it came about was whenever I moved back I’d seen that it was currently in the code. I think it’s important to know five years ago that it was legalized in the Supreme Court and I believe that it should have been adopted here as well,” Grant said.
Currently, Tribal Code Title 9 regarding domestic relations uses the words “husband and wife”, which with the proposed amendment, would be changed to “spouses”.
But the biggest change that would come with the proposal would be the legalization and acknowledgment of same-sex marriages within the tribe.
Right now, if same-sex couples want to get married, it can’t be on the reservation.
“There has been some couples that have been wanting to get married, and I know there’s couples that had to leave our nation to go get married in, you know, the counties or other areas,” Grant said.
Local advocacy groups such as Magic City Equality have also voiced their support for the change in a letter to the Tribal Council, as the group’s Treasurer Jorden Laducer is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain tribe.
Tribal Chairman Jamie Azure says the change has been a topic of discussion among the council for quite some time.
“Well, we’ve had a few tribal members that I know personally that have been talking about this code change for actually years,” Azure said.
Azure says the change is now up for 30-day public comment, in which anyone can voice their support or voice against the change. After that, it’ll be up to the eight-member council.
“We get all of the comments ahead of time and we get to read through them and at an open public meeting we will vote on to either pass through this code change, you know, vote for or vote against.”
Until the vote, Grant says he’s staying positive and that if this change is passed, it will set the pace for the future.
“It’s only the beginning I think it’s– it’s important that we move forward that we unite that we mobilize and we continue to just push forward because we can only go up from here,” Grant said.
The vote for the code change will take place July 30.