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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Laura Berman: Backlash erupts over Troy mayor's sneer at gays

From The Detroit News:  
Backlash erupts over Troy mayor's sneer at gaysOne month into her new role as Troy's $135-a-month mayor, Janice Daniels is discovering the downside of making politically inflammatory statements once you represent a city, not a faction.Her flip sneer at the gay community, posted on Facebook in June but not noticed widely until last Friday, has unleashed a viral storm that's gone from the Huffington Post to ABC News, ricocheting back to Troy's business community, now in the critical homestretch for the 2011 retail season.Surprise, Madame Mayor: Snide jokes about "queers" aren't good for business.This is only beginning to dawn on Daniels, a tea party favorite who won her first political office in November by campaigning against a library millage and a proposed transit center.Since last weekend, Daniels has trotted out various defenses of her post, which is what it is: "I think I'm going to throw away my I Love New York carrying bag now that queers can get married there."She's pointed out that the offensive Q word is "in the dictionary," and that she still has the tote bag ("It was a joke"), all the while clinging to her "principle" — that "marriage should be between a man and a woman."Although Daniels has apologized weakly several times, always with caveats, she has yet to suggest she actually understands how she offended real people who live, shop and work in Troy and who are her constituents.She is getting a short, not too happy, education in the facts of political life — specifically that the kind of sweeping stereotypes that fringe groups applaud don't play well with the wider electorate, who may include the CEOs of major corporations or the local chamber of commerce.While Daniels says "I love all people," her Facebook post emitted the kind of "those people" vibe that created a barrage of Facebook jokes about Troy hairdressers and waiters exacting revenge on the mayor."We don't regard this as statesmanlike or leadership," said Michele Hodges, president of the Troy Chamber of Commerce."We've been deluged by emails and calls, but we want people to direct their anger, their justifiable anger, at city hall, not at local business."Maureen McGinnis, the mayor pro tem, said City Council members had received hundreds of emails, including those from people who said they wouldn't shop in Troy stores or eat in Troy restaurants.Daniels received them, too, she said, "but I also heard from people who said they want to move to Troy."Were these people standing in solidarity with her stance against New York? "They agree with my view of moving the city forward," the mayor said.Oakland County Commissioner Craig Covey, a former Ferndale mayor who was Michigan's first openly gay mayor, said he remembers making mistakes when he was first elected.As a city councilman, he drew fire for an election night comment comparing the religious right to a vampire needing a dagger to the heart."Troy is not a podunk town," he said, acknowledging empathy for Daniels' plight."She needs to understand she's the mayor of a grown-up, very diverse city."Daniels ran on a platform advocating unlimited public comment at Troy City Council meetings, surely failing to envision angering legions of gays, lesbians and their families, friends and supporters of fair-mindedness. As is often the case, turnabout is fair play.

1 comment:

  1. Ms. Daniels' comment was made before she ever had an inkling that she would run for public office. She has apologized for the remark. But, like everything else in this increasingly politicized, intolerant, inhuman, polarized society, the response is: "Off with her head!" Perhaps Troy's next project should be the building of a Colliseum.