Sunday, December 4, 2011

Oakland Press: Troy students will protest against mayor for gay slur on Facebook

Published: Sunday, December 04, 2011

A group of Troy High School students are organizing a protest on the steps of Troy City Hall on Monday in hopes Mayor Janice Daniels will resign.

The protest plans were announced Saturday morning after a controversial post Daniels made on Facebook, before she was elected, came to light.

The post, dated June 25, reads: “I think I am going to throw away my I Love New York carrying bag now that queers can get married there.”

Zach Kilgore, senior and member of Troy High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance, planned the protest, beginning at 3 p.m.

“While there, we’ll come up with an agenda for ourselves: do we want City Council to pass additional ordinances, Daniels to attend diversity training, etc.,” Kilgore said. “Chances are we’ll come back again and again. I’d like to stress that this is meant to be completely peaceful and respectful. We aren’t showing up at City Hall to take over the building. We’re showing up to demonstrate that bigotry is not a true representation of Troy.”

When he heard about the Facebook status posted by Daniels, Kilgore said his first reaction was disbelief. He said he feels Daniels should step down from her position for the sake of the city.

“Although I’m not gay, I do have friends who are open about it,” Kilgore said. “To have the mayor of your own city be against you personally, well, that’s going to hurt more than just superficially.”

Hayley Steele, a Troy High School senior, said she is attending the protest because she was offended by the comment made by “the new leader of my city.”

“I care very deeply about Troy, and I therefore want it to be the best that it can be. For that to happen, messages of acceptance need to be spread and ignorance needs to be challenged,” Steele said.

Daniels did not respond to calls by The Oakland Press before deadline, but according to published media reports Friday, she said she will not remove the Facebook post.
“I was not even considering running for mayor when I posted that. I firmly believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. As mayor, I represent all members of the community, and I am honored to have been elected. They are my personal comments, and I posted them. I am not going to change my opinion,” she said in the report.

Troy resident Sharon MacDonell, blogger of “Keep Troy Strong,” broke the news of the Facebook post on Thursday.

“Someone sent me the screen grab, and I posted it to my blog. I have been writing about her and the extreme politicians here in Troy for over a year. This is the first post that has gotten so much attention. I am as shocked as anyone that it has gone viral all over the country,” MacDonell said.

“I think we all know someone who is gay or maybe even have members of our families who are gay. It’s one thing to be anti-gay marriage, but to use such language and to be so certain it’s OK to talk that way in public? It’s just disgusting.”

Troy City Council member Jim Campbell said he hopes residents don’t assume the mayor’s opinion is the same as the entire council’s views.

“She is the mayor, but she has one vote, and she’s one person. I can’t speak for everybody on the board, but I don’t think anyone else on the council holds those views. If they do, they’ve kept it to themselves,” Campbell said. “I think everybody has a right to be upset. Everybody has views, but to put them in the public sector when you’re running for office, I don’t think that’s the right thing to do.”

Campbell said he knows this will take center stage in the mind of Oakland County residents’ view of the city of Troy for a while.

“We have a lot of other issues to take care of,” Campbell said. “We’re hoping this council is going to be able to focus on things like the transit center, the library, the budget and city services. Unfortunately, the focus ... is going to shift for a while. The brand-new council now starts getting a questionable reputation from the public, which is something we don’t need.”

FYI

The protest at Troy City Hall regarding Troy Mayor Janice Daniels’ Facebook post using a gay slur begins at 3 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5, at Troy City Hall, 500 W. Big Beaver Road, Troy.
Contact Monica Drake at 248-745-4687 or email her at monica.drake@oakpress.com. Find her on Twitter at monica_adele.

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