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Troy, Mich. mayor confronted by angry citizens over use of gay slur

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TROY, Mich. — In a city council meeting that stretched five hours until nearly 1 a.m. Tuesday, residents of Troy, Mich. blasted mayor Janice Daniels over comments she posted to Facebook last June about gay marriage, which included a gay slur.

The overflow crowd packed both council chambers and the adjacent meeting room with dozens of citizens lined up for public comment. Speaker after speaker took Daniels to task, while residents outside protested and called for her resignation.

Photo by Jen Anesi, via Troy Patch.com

The controversy stems from a June 25 Facebook post unearthed last week by the blog “Keep Troy Strong” — in the post, Daniels wrote: “I think I am going to throw away my ‘I Love New York’ carrying bag now that queers can get married there.”

“How can any citizen of Troy ever look at this mayor the same way?” asked resident Jeff Williams.

Williams, 26, went on to address the mayor directly, telling her “You don’t represent my values. I’m ashamed to have you represent the city.”

Earlier, as Daniels entered the Troy municipal building, a crowd of about 40 persons chanted for her removal.

The mayor paused and lectured the crowd on the meaning of forgiveness by saying, “True forgiveness means that you wipe the slate clean and allow the person to improve themselves from that point forward, so this is a very good lesson for all of us!”

After numerous persons pointed out that her demeanor appeared to indicate she wasn’t truly sorry for her actions, the mayor responded with, “I’m a good person, I really am. I said one word that you don’t like. One word.”

After the Facebook post became public, Daniels told MLive.com, “I may have said something like that … I probably shouldn’t have used that kind of language, but I do believe marriage should be between one man and one woman.”

Daniels added that while she’s opposed to gay marriage, and has moral issues with homosexuality, she doesn’t hate gay people.

“I love all people. I am human. That was probably a poor choice of words.”

Before the public comment session began, Daniels reiterated her apology, calling the incident “a poor choice of words.”

But several residents told her that apology was insufficient and insincere.

One of the mayor’s colleagues, City Councilman Dane Slater, said, “I’m gonna be the first to let you know that you are not the victim here. You sent me a memo apologizing but it gave me the sense that you think you’re the victim here, and you are not the victim. The city is the victim.”

Denise Brogan-Kator, the executive director of Equality Michigan, said in an open letter published in Troy Patch.com prior to the city council meeting:

When I saw that Troy Mayor Janice Daniels had posted on her Facebook page this summer that she was going to throw away her I Love NY bag “now that queers can get married there,” I was shocked and offended. Her choice of the slur “queers” was evidence that a person who is now an elected official harbors deep animosity toward the gay community, and had no qualms posting about it.

She may not have been mayor at the time, but I doubt that winning the election has done anything other than reinforce her obvious belief that she is better than the people she serves.

Now, having heard her excuse, I am even more deeply concerned, because it is a familiar and dangerous one. Ms. Daniels claims she was “expressing her personal belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.” Meaning, it is okay to degrade and dehumanize people if you are doing it based on a sincerely held moral conviction.

Does that sound familiar to you, too? Just a month ago, our state senate tried to protect school bullies based on the same justification. They passed a bill that exempted not just students, but also school employees and others, from any responsibility for bullying if it was based on a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.” It was, in essence, a license to bully. It was a national embarrassment and a shameful day for our state.

And now Ms. Daniels has shamed the City of Troy by attempting to hide behind the same excuse.

Michael Gregor, Director of Communications for Equality Michigan, told LGBTQ Nation on Tuesday, “This is an example of people holding their elected officials accountable and also making a statement that homophobia, particularly by those same officials is completely unacceptable.”

Gregor said that his organization is frustrated with the mayor’s lukewarm apology and seemingly insincere efforts, and hopes she will take a lead role in passage of an anti-discrimination bill to help protect Troy’s LGBTQ citizens as a means to affirm her support for equality for all of Troy’s citizens.

Daniels said she has no intention of resigning.

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Filed under: Michigan

18 more reader comments:

  1. oust the mayor… :)

    Posted on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 9:14pm
  2. GOOD go get that monster.. and i dont mean lil monster (gaga) bc this lady is an EVIL monster yuck

    Posted on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 9:14pm
  3. What a cow. She isn’t sorry in the slightest, I’ve given more sincere apologies as a kid for hitting my brother.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 9:16pm
  4. “One of the mayor’s colleagues, City Councilman Dane Slater, said, ‘I’m gonna be the first to let you know that you are not the victim here. You sent me a memo apologizing but it gave me the sense that you think you’re the victim here, and you are not the victim. The city is the victim.’”

    Posted on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 9:17pm
  5. Really ? She has no intention of resigning ? I am sure the citizens have a voice in that decision.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 9:24pm
  6. Ehhh, Lots of people have demeaned a group that I am a part of – I deal with it. And although I think their behavior reflects poorly on them, I certainly don’t think it reduces their qualifications or is such a fault to deserve a ‘socio-poltical stoning ritual’ – to each their own.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 9:46pm
  7. It looks to me like Dane Slater should be the next mayor.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 9:52pm
  8. “poor choice of words”?…lady, you called me a queer, plain and simple

    Posted on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 10:00pm
  9. it’s not ‘just’ her choice of words, it’s her homophobic beliefs. She should either resign or be fired.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 11:32pm
  10. She seems to have the mental illness of homophobia brought on by religious fanatics and closet cases. Maybe she is a lesbian having a hard time dealing with it in the closet while looking at lesbian porn?

    Posted on Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 1:41am
  11. I, too, like how she says, “That was PROBABLY a poor choice of words”

    *bitchslap*

    Posted on Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 3:43am
  12. She needs to get off her moral pedistool and take a really good look in the mirror.

    Posted on Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 4:08am
  13. I really hope she steps down or does not get re-elected. I do not understand how she doesn’t understand what she says on Social Media will not come back to haunt her. In honesty the way things are going this will probably boost her poll numbers.
    Badge Society

    Posted on Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 10:13am
  14. She’s a goddamned bitch…

    Posted on Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 1:23pm
  15. I don’t see why yall are offended by her comment? This article is posted on “LGBTQ Nation.” What does the Q stand for? If that word is offensive then why is it in the name of your organization?

    Posted on Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 11:43pm
  16. Brent,

    Yes, Queer is in LGTBQ. In the right context, the word is fine to use. What is upsetting most people, as I see it, is that the word was used derogatorily and out of the context it was meant to be used for. It’s used as an insult just like the word Gay is used to describe something stupid, generally. When a word begins to be used in such a way, the meaning changes. In this case, since people identify as LGTBQ, any word used in a derogatory manner is going to become offense to people and people will feel strongly about the misuse of the word.

    Matt

    Posted on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 12:21pm
  17. I agree with what most of you are saying…. But something that I don’t understand is why everyone gets so pissed over this, when just recently there was an article focusing on Transphobic slurs, and everyone basically said they should get over it. I’m a Lesbian, biologically female and my gender is female as well, but I get angry when people use hateful language of ANY kind. Homophobia, Transphobia, Racism, Sexism, none of that is okay.

    Posted on Sunday, December 11, 2011 at 7:31pm
  18. The slur it’s self is not the point. Queer is only a word. It’s her attitude towards us ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLE PEOPLE that makes me sick!! Did I say that correctly?

    Posted on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 8:35pm