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Romney’s Character Questioned as Stories of Anti-Gay Bullying Surface; Judy Shepard Speaks Out

Washington Post exposes troubling incidents from Romney’s past

05/10/2012

Washington – The Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization – is calling into question Mitt Romney’s character, after a piece in the Washington Post raises troubling incidents from the candidate’s past.  In the article, classmates of Romney at the prestigious Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, recall Romney perpetually teasing a classmate perceived to be gay, at one point yelling to the long-haired classmate, “He can’t look like that.  That’s wrong.  Just look at him!” Eventually the verbal harassment turned into physical violence, when Romney led a group of students who tackled him, pinned him to the ground, and cut his hair with a pair of scissors, all because Romney didn’t like the way he looked.

According to the article, Mitt Romney claims to have no recollection of the physical altercation, or of bullying the student.  However, five of his classmates gave their accounts of the incident to the Washington Post and all have similar recollections of what transpired.  One of the students, recalling the victim being terrified, later apologized to him and said, “What a senseless, stupid, idiotic thing to do.” In an interview after the article was published, Romney recalled his youth saying, “Back in high school I did some dumb things.”

Judy Shepard, whose son Matthew was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in 1998 said: “While this may seem like an innocent prank to some, it was an act of torment against a child for being different.  We expect the people we elect to be leaders in the charge against bullying so that all students are afforded the right to learn and grow in an environment free of fear.  This incident calls into question whether Mitt Romney can be an advocate for the nation’s most vulnerable children.” 

“We cannot look past this incident now that Romney is the presumptive Republican nominee for president,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  “Mitt Romney’s unwillingness to understand or acknowledge the gravity of his actions and sincerely apologize is a troubling suggestion of a lack of character.” is a troubling suggestion of a lack of character.”

With Mitt Romney’s anti-gay past exposed, it is clear why he has flip flopped on the issue of LGBT rights, becoming a vehemently anti-equality candidate in the race for the presidency.  Yesterday as President Obama demonstrated clear leadership in expressing his support for marriage equality, Romney told a Denver news station: "If a civil union is identical to marriage other than in the name, I don't support that.”

“Mitt Romney has come full-circle in his views on LGBT equality.  He has gone from being a bully perpetuating violence on a classmate who was different from him, to a candidate who in 1994 said he would be better to the LGBT community than Ted Kennedy, to a candidate in 2012 whose views are in line with the most fringe anti-LGBT groups,” added Solmonese. 

Learn more about Romney’s disastrous track record on issues of LGBT equality at hrc.org/mittnmatch.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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