A Michigan mayor's proclamations about same-sex marriage and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community are continuing to cause controversy nationwide.
As Patch reports, Troy Mayor Janice Daniels met with members of the Troy High School Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) on Monday in an effort to reach an understanding after an "anti-gay" slur that appeared on her personal Facebook page was harshly criticized by LGBT advocacy groups. However, those hoping the meeting would completely smooth things over say they were disappointed by the outcome.
According to students and others who attended the meeting, Daniels, a Republican, suggested putting together a panel of psychologists to show that homosexuality is dangerous to your mental health, Patch reports. “There were a lot of disturbing things that were said in that meeting," Troy High School senior Skye Curtis is quoted as saying. "She definitely meant it in quite a negative connotation."
Daniels has since denied ever making the suggestion, calling it instead a "misrepresentation entirely." She told the Detroit Free Press: "What I said was, there's a higher incidence of [overall] disease in the homosexual community. I believe in full disclosure. I would like to reach out to this girl and her parents about how this can be resolved."
Still, local LGBT advocates have nonetheless condemned the comments. "It’s shocking that Mayor Daniels continues to promote homophobia in her community," Michael Gregor, Communications Director for Equality Michigan, said in an e-mail. "The comments made, if true, are both disrespectful and dehumanizing to gay and lesbian people who are represented by the mayor. It is exactly this type of behavior that contributes to harassment and violence targeting gay and lesbian people, especially teenagers. No public official should be creating such a harmful environment.”
Amy Hunter, President of Equality Michigan Pride Political Action Committee, echoed those sentiments, even suggesting that Daniels was unfit for public office. "The ongoing homophobia issues surrounding Mayor Daniels illustrates why electing local and state officials who believe that every one of their constituents matter is so important," Hunter said. "Janice Daniel's beliefs about gay and transgender people are nothing more than tired and discredited extreme-right rhetoric used to demean people and scare the uninformed."
Daniels originally came under fire in December, after a June 25 post on her personal Facebook page made the blogosphere rounds. "I think I am going to throw away my I Love New York carrying bag now that queers can get married there," she wrote at the time.
She then went on to clarify the statement, telling MLive: "I probably shouldn’t have used that kind of language, but I do believe marriage should be between one man and one woman."