Today’s events have served to remind some people of Mitt’s awkward history when it comes to gay kids and anti-bullying efforts. As governor of Massachusetts, he first vetoed a funding increase for the (Republican-governor-created) Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, then threatened to shut them down outright after the commission was seen as endorsing a (shudder) gay pride parade. One with undesirable people in it. TPM:
Romney’s spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom later confirmed that the photos were a key concern as well as the events inclusion of the transgender community.
“This year, what was brought to our attention was a press release that was not authorized by this office but which went out on state letterhead promoting a parade that was hosted by a crossdresser and celebrating, among other things, transgenderism,” Fehrnstrom said.
Oh dear, crossdressing too? That’s just too much.
The commission was not shut down; instead, Romney sought to eliminate the “Gay and Lesbian” part of the commission’s focus, instead turning it into a more generic anti-bullying commission that would, presumably, be less prone to pissing off conservative groups. Irritated state Democrats responded by creating a new anti-gay-bullying commission, one which would not be subject to Romney’s stipulations. Romney tried to veto it, the Democrats overrode his veto, and Romney then disbanded the Governor’s Commission entirely, calling it duplicative.
This wasn’t the only instance in which Romney specifically targeted anti-intimidation efforts or other programs directed at gay Americans. As HuffPo notes:
On Nov. 15, 2006, for example, the Boston Herald noted that Romney had cut funds for “HIV/AIDS prevention, matching grants for groups like the YMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs and domestic violence prevention in the gay community.” It was part of the governor’s $ 425 million emergency state spending freeze.
Earlier in the year, Romney had vetoed $ 158,000 in funding for “intervention services and crisis housing for sexual violence in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.” As the Patriot Ledger reported on July 22, 2006, the Democratic-controlled state legislature overrode his veto.
Let’s just say that anti-violence programs weren’t Mitt’s cup of tea.
Compare that, now, with Romney’s far more recent anti-bullying pledge. Back in August, the far-right National Organization for Marriage requested candidates sign their pledge to “defend” marriage, one that Romney indeed happily signed off on. Among the pledge requirements (PDF):
“[...] establish a presidential commission on religious liberty to investigate and document reports of Americans who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if needed.”
Got that? As governor, Mitt Romney repeatedly tried to defund anti-bullying and anti-violence programs aimed at gay Americans under the banner of austerity, and demanded his Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth stop focusing on gay youth and on anti-gay-bullying efforts. As presidential nominee, he has pledged to establish a presidential commission to support those that do the anti-gay bullying, because they’re the ones whose voices are being oppressed.
It always sounded a bit seedy, but this new information about Mitt’s own history as a past bully certainly casts these other events in a bit of a different light. We may have stumbled on something Mitt has an actual opinion on.