I'm having a hard time figuring out the logic behind the decision making here. In the first place, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) has existed since 1880, filling a dire need to ensure deaf people were afforded the same equal rights as hearing people. Indeed, the oppression of deaf people is a shameful chapter in America's history and the NAD was at the forefront all this time fighting for equality and access for all deaf people.
It was a rather stunning surprise when I discovered the NAD scheduled South Dakota's Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard as one of the primary speakers at its national conference being held this summer. It is no surprise to anyone that Gov. Daugaard opposes gay marriage and has stated that no individual groups should be given special privileges. Gov. Daugaard is allowed his views and since he was duly elected by the people of South Dakota, I'm not going to second guess their decision. But it is fairly clear that Daugaard's view doesn't belong at the NAD conference.
So why was he invited? It's because he can sign. He comes from a deaf family. Although for reasons that make no sense to me, many in the deaf community hold (adult) hearing children of deaf parents in high regard -- enough so, they'll seeming toss aside their understanding of the meaning of the word "equality."
In social media, the large deaf LGBT community is in an uproar. A website used by the community to follow the matter had previously collapsed under the traffic load, but I did manage to get a working link to another site which includes a decent summary of their position:
Why should NAD members care about Daugaard's position on same sex marriage? Because the NAD's invitation and response leaves us with some damning messages. Daugaard voted for the constitutional amendment in 2006 that defined marriage in South Dakota as being between one man and one woman. In other words, he supports legal discrimination against a minority group. This is a denial of equal access to citizenship and its privileges.
I must caution some in this group who are attempting to tie Gov. Daugaard to the closing of the school for the deaf in that state. That was an economic matter and he was not even governor at the time. Rumors of this type can backfire. Then there are a few who hurt their own causes by excluding non-deaf people from access to the information supporting their own claims.
At this moment the NAD is seemingly trying to appease the opposition to Daugaard by addition of a LGBT luncheon to the conference and the announcement of a new LGBT equality policy.
My feeling is the NAD is misjudging the strength of the overall LGBT movement in America. They should cut their losses and heed the call to replace Daugaard. There are plenty of prominent people in America that can sign; some are even LGBT advocates.
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