Janice Daniels is not yet a month into her as mayor of Troy, and she is already causing controversy after a status update slamming gay marriage on what appears to be her personal Facebook page went viral Friday afternoon.
The June 25 status update reads: "I think I am going to throw away my I Love New York carrying bag now that queers can get married there." The post was tucked among other posts and photos about Daniels' mayoral campaign, as well as personal photos and status updates.
As the status, which was first discovered by Keep Troy Strong on Thursday, made its way around Facebook, Twitter and the web, hundreds of people shared and commented on it.
In a report Friday evening by MLive, an Ann Arbor-based news site, the mayor is quoted as saying: "I probably shouldn’t have used that kind of language, but I do believe marriage should be between one man and one woman."
According to MLive, Daniels also criticized Keep Troy Strong, which first spread word of the Facebook post, for having a vendetta against her administration. The site supported a Troy library millage approved by voters in July and backs a planned transit center, each of which which Daniels opposed.
Craig Covey, an Oakland County Commissioner and former mayor of Ferndale, posted a comment on his Facebook page: "No mayor, of any city, particularly one as large and diverse as Troy, should ever use vulgar slurs to insult an entire community. She needs to apologize to the entire region for this nasty posting."
Covey added on the Troy Patch Facebook page: "The new mayor of Troy needs to understand that she now has a responsibility to all the people of Troy. Troy is a large, important, diverse community and she needs to apologize to the citizens of Troy, including its gay residents, as well as the visitors, employees, and businesses in the city. Then she needs to apologize to the entire region."
Earlier, one of the first Facebook shares of the post was by Equality Michigan: "We are shocked and appalled and call on the Mayor to apologize, and to endorse a non-discrimination ordinance in her city that protects gay and transgender residents of Troy from the harm that such language breeds."
Denise Brogan-Kator, executive director of Equality Michigan, who also shared the status update Friday afternoon, wrote: "I find it discouraging that a leader of people can have such disregard for the lives of people she serves. Many of us use the word 'queer' as a way to reclaim a word that has historically been used to hurt us, by the majority. Clearly, from the context, this is NOT what Mayor Daniels intended.
"I am truly shocked at such disregard for the effects that such language has had on our community. Either she doesn't know – which is remarkable, given the news about the rise in violent crimes committed against the gay and transgender community – or she intended it. Either way, I find it shameful."
"Anyone that aspires to hold public office," Brogan-Kator added in a phone conversation Friday evening, "has a responsibility to keep their communications and opinions of classes and people respectful – and I think this crossed the line – and at a bare minimum think she needs to apologize to the gay and transgender population in the city of Troy and in Michigan."
Daniels also commented on this story, although she did not return phone calls to her office.
"I firmly support marriage as being defined as between one man and one woman and I am not going to change my position," Daniels commented in part. "That said, I love all people and will continue to work towards promoting a vibrant City of Troy.
"The groups that despise me are digging deep to try to find something to worry about. They probably should start worrying about how they can best work with a new Mayor who believes that we live in a free country and we all have first amendment rights to speak our minds on any and all issues that are before us."
She ended the comment: "BTW, I am still carrying my I Love New York bag," and signed it Janice Daniels, Mayor of the great City of Troy.
Brogan-Kator took issue with Daniels' lack of response.
"She is now a public official and I think it would be best for her to speak on the record," Brogan-Kator said. "She clearly has shed a light onto her city and this is her opportunity to make that light be a good one – and right now it is not."
Sue Martin, a Troy resident and co-founder of Troy Residents United for a Strong Troy (TRUST), also had harsh words Friday, by phone, regarding Daniels' written response. "I support her right to her opinion, but it seems to me she is excusing it and writing it off as people dislike me," Martin said. "But it’s out there because she said it."
As of 6:30 p.m. Friday, the Facebook status update had been shared more than 104 times.
"I cannot believe anyone could get elected to any position if they are this ignorant!" wrote Facebook user Allison Hughes, who shared Daniels' status update to her own wall Friday afternoon. "Makes me want to punch her in the face or hit her with that New York handbag!"
On the Troy Patch Facebook page, there were many comments as well:
Katie Taylor Mowrey: It's painful and embarrassing. She may be Mayor of my city, but she doesn't represent me. She is a leader of ignorance and intolerance. Frightening that she's so proud of it.
Kim Kuras Yanchyshyn: She reminds me of a bull in a china shop. Wonder what will break next.
Joe Keenan: The mayor seems to think that using the word "queer" is okay because some in the gay community use it in an attempt to take it back from it's hurtful connotations. As some in the African-American community use the n-word, I'm wonder how soon the mayor uses the n-word in her "queer" logic kind of way?
Sam Zayvan: She's throwing away her I love NY shirt because gays can get married there? Doesn't she realize that NY was the gayest place on earth before that? I mean, even half of the women in New York are gay men. I think she, like many Tea Partiers, like her gays singing on Broadway and waiting on her at restaurants, but not enjoying basic human rights.
Twitter was also abuzz on Friday with comments about Daniels' Facebook post:
@twenty3curls: "Completely embarrassed that this is my mayor."
@techiegrrl: "can she be recalled? So not cool!!"
@_MarkRDobbins: "For shame."
@rootwyrm: "Throwing away my Troy, MI mug now that hate filled bigots can be mayor there. (Also will not be visiting till you get rid of her.)"
Calls to several city council members for comment have gone unanswered.
contributed to this report.
Clarification: This story has been edited to remove mention of one "no comment" from a city official. Patch felt it was unfair to this individual to include a no comment when he had no prior knowledge of the post when he was contacted.