Turtle Mountain makes history as first tribe in North Dakota to recognize same-sex marriage

Local News

Five years ago, the United States Supreme Court voted to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states — but in sovereign nations, this ruling didn’t apply.

Now, LGBTQ+ members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa got the result they’d been waiting half a decade for.

“We wanna thank everybody for coming here. We wanna make sure that everybody’s voice is heard,” said Jorden Laducer, Co-Executive Director Magic City Equality.

Families and friends came together Thursday on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation to support LGBTQ+ members of the tribe and the push for marriage equality.

“It means that our message is here that equality is needed for all, especially even if you are an ally as well within the LGBTQ+,” said Laducer.

The march was especially important to Councilwoman Loann Jerome, who is the only openly gay member of the Turtle Mountain Tribal Council.

“I think it’s important that we get the same rights that everybody else gets for, you know, whether we’re on the reservation or in the state. It’s legal in the state so why shouldn’t it be legal here?” said Jerome.

And that was the main focus of Thursday’s open tribal council meeting, where members of the tribe along with the council voiced their opinions on the proposed changes to Title 9 involving domestic relations and, most importantly, legalize same-sex marriages within the tribe.

For some, it was very personal.

“I’ve fought and I’ve bled to protect my friends and my family that were persecuted and cut down for being the way they are the way they were born,” said Nathan ‘Puma’ Davis, District 1 Councilman.

The open discussion took nearly three hours — and ended in a historic way.

“With a vote of 6 to 2, therefore it be resolved the tribe is adopting the amendments of Title 9 Domestic Relations Code of the Turtle Mountain Tribal Code and will be numbered and ratified accordingly in its entirety,” said Jamie Azure, Turtle Mountain Tribal Chairman.

Laducer says although this is a huge win for the tribe, it is only the beginning.

“It feels amazing but I know our job isn’t done. We have a lot more to do and a lot more to go,” said Laducer.

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