Turtle Mountain votes to recognize same sex marriage

Belcourt march
Belcourt march(KFYR-TV)
Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 7:18 PM CDT
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BELCOURT, N.D. (KFYR) - The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa has become the state’s first tribe to formally recognize same-sex marriage.

Advocates for same-sex couples rallied in the streets of Belcourt before the vote.

A historic action for a historic vote as LGBTQ2+ people and allies marched to the front of the tribal transportation building as the tribal council prepared for a vote to alter the definition of marriage in the tribe's code.

More than 100 tribe members, allies, and their families all made their way through the streets of Belcourt to leave an impact on the community.

“We are making it know that we are not going anywhere but instead we are fighting for equality for all,” said Jorden LaDucer, tribe member and march co-organizer.

For LaDucer, organizing support for Thursday’s vote is just the beginning of what he hopes will be wide spread change.

“If this passes today this would be the first in the state of North Dakota. We would set the precedence for the rest of the state as well as  sister states around us showing that equality matters and equality for all is needed,” said LaDucer.

Cultures were able to combine with additional support unique to the tribes traditions.

“We come here to walk in unity and pray,” said tribe member, Trevor Gunville.

Gunville, who is a spiritual leader in the Turtle Mountains, is also an LGBTQ+ ally and identifies as a Two Spirit being.

“Us traditional people, we love all of our people love is love, you know? We don’t judge or discriminate. We love all of our people and we’re taking a stand with them here today,” said Gunville.

COVID-19 restrictions meant many of the marchers could not attend the meeting. But even thought they were outside they managed to tune in via radio.

Inside, tribe members were able to give their opinions before the vote. Those who opposed the amendment said they believe the choice to change the definition of marriage should belong to the people, not the council.

“So you’re trying to impose on me, on those who believe like me, a law that is not something that I agree with,” said Denise Marcellais, speaker.

In the end, the amendment passed with a vote of six to two.

The Diocese of Fargo who oversees many parishes in Rolette County, released the following statement on the vote to Your News Leader:

“Lay Catholics in the Diocese of Fargo are encouraged to participate in the democratic process. The Catholic Church has always taught that the civil institution of marriage should be the union of one man and one woman, recognizing the complementarity of the sexes.”

Those who oppose the decision will have to have a petition signed by 20% of voters in the last election to bring the issue before the tribal council. But for now, same sex individuals and allies are celebrating what they see as a win for equal rights.

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