Arts & Entertainment
Troy residents Jeff Williams and Kristen Douglas protesting Mayor Daniels on Dec. 5. BTL photo: Andrew Potter
Troy mayor inflames another gay controversy
GSA plans 'major event' to help all involved
By Kate Opalewski
Originally printed 1/26/2012 (Issue 2004 - Between The Lines News)
Mayor of Troy Janice Daniels is under scrutiny once more for making more anti-gay statements. This time, her words have been recorded on tape, but Mayor Daniels has refused to release the tape for the public to hear.
Mayor Daniels' anti-gay statements were recorded by herself when she invited members of the Troy High School Gay-Straight Alliance to the Troy Community Center on Jan. 9. The purpose of this particular meeting was to try and reach an understanding following last month's controversy when Mayor Daniels made use of the word "queer" in an anti-gay marriage Facebook post. The meeting was also supposed to allow for Mayor Daniels to hold up her end of an agreement previously made with GSA members to organize an anti-bullying awareness event.
Things did not go as planned. According to Skye Curtis, GSA co-founder and Troy High School senior, Mayor Daniels told students she wanted to invite to an event, "a panel of psychologists who would testify that homosexuality is a mental disease."
By 1975, homosexuality was declassified as a mental disorder by both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association Council of Representatives.
"This statement garnered an immediate, visceral reaction from everyone in the room, and in the ensuing chaos, I didn't ask for clarification about the statement's actual wording, and posted a Facebook status when I got home reflecting what I'd understood," said Curtis in a recent blog with the Troy Patch online.
In a Detroit Free Press article, Mayor Daniels denied making that comment and clarified her statement. "What I said was, there's a higher incidence of (overall) disease in the homosexual community," said Mayor Daniels.
"I'm very sorry that this instantly went viral before I checked the actual wording of the Mayor's statement. In case you all were wondering what the Mayor honestly did say, I've been informed that she in fact told us that the psychiatrists would testify that the homosexual lifestyle is dangerous. Even though she may not have used the exact term 'mental disease,' I'm still pretty disturbed by her words, especially in light of last month's events. While I take responsibility for my status, and am very hopeful that the Mayor will soon release the audio recording she made of our meeting to the public in keeping with her policy of full disclosure, I'd like to bring the underlying issue to light," said Curtis.
Elected officials ask for tape recording
According to Troy City Councilmen Dane Slater and Jim Campbell the Mayor should produce the tape if she has nothing to hide and let the public hear the truth and decide what they believe.
Troy Mayor Pro-tem and Councilwoman Maureen McGinnis briefly commented on the challenge faced by council members during this time.
"Whatever comments were made to the students that attended, (it) did not seem to do anything to mend the pain that her Facebook post caused them, and many others in our community, and for that reason, the continuing controversy has made it difficult for council to deal with policy and financial decisions that we are tasked with making as council members. I am very proud of the diversity we have achieved in the city of Troy and hope that we continue to be recognized in this way. I do not think that the Mayor's personal opinions should represent us as a community or a city council and am hopeful that the Mayor recognizes this as well so that we can continue to move forward as a community," said McGinnis.
"I don't have advice regarding the tape or whether or not she owes people a copy of the tape, but she does owe the citizens of Troy a full and honest explanation of what her thoughts and her beliefs are about the LGBT community and what the issue is. If she wanted advice from me about that, I'd be happy to meet with her anytime," said Mayor of Ferndale Dave Coulter.
In response to Mayor Daniels comments that she is the victim, suffering from bullying and disrespect, Coulter said, "It is not a fair comparison with the type of bullying that takes place in schools. When in a political job like ours, a person expressing their displeasure with you comes with the territory and is fair game. You have to have thick skin. There is nothing unfair about the way the students are reacting."
And it's not just GSA members and supporters who are anti-Mayor Daniels. On the "I Want Troy Mayor Janice Daniels to Resign" Facebook page, there are 222 likes, including the big thumbs up from the City of Troy, the Troy Public Library, Troy Parks and Recreation, the Troy Police Department, and the Troy Community Coalition.
Oakland County Commissioner and former gay mayor of Ferndale, Craig Covey, shared his opinion of Mayor Daniels on the page as wll.
"She won't resign, but she could be recalled. She is not a good fit especially for a business/corporate town like Troy. And the city is very diverse. Can't believe she sneaked into office. This is what happens when less than one in five voters vote," said Covey.
As for the GSA members, they have made the decision to move on without Mayor Daniels' participation. GSA member and Troy High School senior Zach Kilgore posted an open letter to the press and public on the local political blog "Keep Troy Strong." He introduced the group CARE: The Troy Diversity Coalition an acronym that stands for Celebrate, Accept, Respect, and Empathize. With more than 30 members so far, the group in collaboration with local filmmaker and youth mentor Amy Weber, will host what Kilgore calls a "major multimedia event" featuring video presentations, live music, and guest speakers that will celebrate peace, respect, and love. "The event will be non-political, and it will focus solely on helping parties in the community reach a mutual understanding. We will change this unfortunate, negative episode into a positive campaign that promotes unity and respect amongst the city of Troy and the surrounding region. More information will be released soon," said Kilgore.