By Bill Laitner
Detroit Free Press Staff Writer
Troy's new mayor, Janice Daniels -- a longtime activist in Michigan's tea party movement -- went on the defensive Friday, less than three weeks after being sworn into office, when Internet users found what many called a gay slur on her Facebook page.In a post dated June 25, Daniels shared with her Facebook followers the line: "I think I am going to throw away my I Love New York carrying bag now that queers can get married there." Daniels' post came a day after New York legislators voted to allow gay marriage in the state.
Gay rights leaders in Michigan said Daniels' words amounted to hate speech. Denise Brogan-Kator, executive director of Equality Michigan, said on her own Facebook page: "I find it discouraging that a leader of people can have such disregard for the lives of people she serves."
In a phone interview, Brogan-Kator added that Daniels "didn't say it as mayor, but it's been pointed out to her, and she's defending it today."
Some gay people use the word as a way "to reclaim a word that has historically been used to hurt us," Brogan-Kator said. But "clearly, from the context, this is not what Mayor Daniels intended," she said, calling Daniels' use of the word shameful.
Daniels' Facebook page had more than 170 posts as of Friday evening that criticized her comment.
On Friday evening, Daniels said her Facebook posting "may not have been the most appropriate language."
"But I was not even considering running for mayor at that time. I was speaking for myself," she said. "It's my personal belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. I love people, but I want to acknowledge my First Amendment right to speak freely. I know that as mayor, I represent all of the people in this city."
Linda Kajma, 60, a 37-year Troy resident who said she voted for Daniels' opponent in the Nov. 8 election, said she was upset by the comment.
"She passed herself off as a Christian and a person of integrity during the campaign, and now the real Janice is showing her colors," Kajma said.