As Massachusetts governor, he underwent an evolution of his own, withdrawing support for a gay teen suicide prevention group.
Concerns among leaders of a Massachusetts suicide-prevention group for gays about the newly elected Republican governor seemed misplaced, at first.
In 2003 and 2004, Mitt Romney signed official proclamations supporting a gay-pride march sponsored by a nonprofit organization linked to the Massachusetts Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth. The following year, Romney proposed doubling the commission's budget.
But in 2006, when the nonprofit distributed a press release about the annual parade for "gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender" youth on official state stationery, Romney threatened to shut the commission down just days before the event. He quickly relented, but the near-death experience led the group to reorganize so that it no longer served at the pleasure of the governor.
"He was more supportive than we ever thought in the beginning," Kathleen Henry, chairwoman of the commission at the time and a current member, said in an interview. "It wasn't until what I would call a minor clerical snafu offended him that he nearly wiped us out of existence .... He took great exception to the fact that a letter with his name on it included the word 'transgender.'"
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The incident is worth revisiting in the wake of a Washington Post article detailing Romney's bullying of a presumably gay classmate when he was in prep school in Michigan in 1965. Former students say Romney, with help from friends, pinned down the classmate and cut off his bleached-blond, shaggy hair. Romney said on Thursday that he did not remember the incident but added that he had done "stupid things" in high school and apologized if he had hurt anyone.