The NAD released a statement on Marriage Equality. Nice. Thank you for acknowledging us at last. Pretty words, they are. Do they really mean anything though?
As I wrote in my original blog post on deaf politics, it’s time to stop the lip service and start taking real action.
First, this outrage at Gov. Daugaard’s invitation is not just about his stance on same-sex marriage. It is about his anti-equality stance in general when it comes to women, LGBTs, Muslims, and minorities.
Second, I take issue with this portion of the statement. “The NAD has invited many presenters to its Conference to advance the rights of all deaf and hard of hearing individuals, and recognizes that there is diversity in their views with respect to marriage equality. Further, the NAD recognizes the need to work with a variety of people across the nation, including national, state and local policymakers and legislators, to secure equal rights for all deaf and hard of hearing individuals – including members of the GLBT community – as fully participating citizens of the United States.”
Okay. Daugaard, as a private citizen, is entitled to his beliefs as distasteful as they are. But as a legislator, he has CODIFIED discrimination. He has used his position of power and privilege to actively disenfranchise women, muslims, LGBTs, and minorities. He has enabled the passage of legislation that limit the civil rights of a wide variety of people. He has passed laws that limit civil and human rights, yet he is invited to speak about the expansion of those same rights. That’s a contradiction if there ever were any. As one tweeter said, @LealaHolcomb stated on her twitter: “Why should Daugaard educate us about civil, human, and linguistic rights when he does not practice those values himself?”
The NAD is still asking the deaf community to set aside other facets of their identities that matter equally to them, or may be more important. One of the tweeters I follow, @sordaradical, put it this way: “i dont consider you a part of my community if youre a racist, sexist, classist, heterosexist, ableist. being deaf does not still connect us.” [Or your relationship through your deaf parents]
Daugaard, as a plenary speaker, is one of the three most prominent speakers at the conference and is featured on the front page of the NAD website. As I stated in my original blog post, this is an implicit endorsement of his positions. This action legitimizes Daugaard’s positions.
Last, but not least, the NAD has not acknowledged that they are acting from the position of white, heterosexual, cisgender, and primarily male privilege by choosing to ignore his record on the rights of women, Muslims, LGBTs, and other disenfranchised minorities.
Lip service, no more, NAD. Action Now.