COMMENTARY: TWO condemns Mitt Romney's bullying of classmate and doesn't buy his apology

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Truth Wins Out condemned Mitt Romney today for bullying and assaulting a high school classmate for appearing nonconforming and what was widely assumed to be gay.

The story of Romney's abusive behavior appeared in today's Washington Post and sheds light on his current anti-gay positions, including his hostility towards recognizing equal rights for same-sex couples.

“This is not a mere prank to be easily dismissed, but a disturbing portrait of a person with deeply ingrained anti-gay attitudes,” said Wayne Besen, Truth Wins Out's executive director. “It seems Romney's preferred form of bullying today is his anti-gay campaign positions and actions in the legislative arena.”

According to the Washington Post article:

John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn't having it.

“He can't look like that. That's wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann's recollection. Mitt, the teenaged son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber's look, Friedemann recalled.

A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school's collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber's hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.

Today, Romney apologized for his actions, although he claimed that he did not “remember that incident.” This is odd, considering that the bullying made quite a lasting impression among his friends, who felt deeply ashamed for their participation.

“Back in high school, I did some dumb things, and if anybody was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that,” Romney said in a live radio interview with Fox News Channel personality Brian Kilmeade.

Romney added: “I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school, and some might have gone too far, and for that I apologize.”

“I'm more disturbed by his amnesia than the original incident,” TWO's Besen said. “To forget humiliating and abusing someone in this manner suggests that such behavior was common for Romney.”

Truth Wins Out is a nonprofit organization that fights anti-LGBT extremism. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.

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