It has been more than a week now since news broke that the Mayor of Troy, Michigan, the city I inhabit, had placed a gay-slur on her facebook page (now taken down). The statement was placed there in June, shortly before she took out papers to run for mayor. In her responses to day, she has "apologized" but has demonstrated no understanding of the ramifications of her statement. She saw it as a "joke," but in hindsight a poor one. But statements like this are not a joke, when we as a nation are deeply engaged in a debate about gay rights. Consider the recent ad by Republican candidate Rick Perry who begins by saying he's a Christian and then complains that the military has ended "don't ask, don't tell" while at the same time forbidding Christians to pray in school. The fact is -- Christians can pray in school, it's just that school authorities can't lead prayers.
The mayor's remark has gone viral and many people around the world have gotten the impression that her remarks represent our city. While representing some, they surely don't represent all of us. In fact, at the most recent City Council meeting, the mayor heard from the citizenry, including the youth, for four hours. But perhaps the most powerful statement is this youtube video from local young adult resident Kristina House. She reminds us that while we may have the 1st amendment right to say whatever we like (within reason), words have power and need to be taken seriously, especially when uttered by those in leadership. She reminds us that the mayor has the power to influence the young, who now may believe that her attitudes and words are appropriate for them -- since she is a person of political influence.
Here is the video -- it uses music and hand written statements -- no spoken words -- to convey this powerful message that it will get better, even here in Troy.
H/T Troy Patch