Former American Idol winner and advocate for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network Clay Aiken stopped by The Ed Show on Thursday to discuss marriage equality and gay bullying, issues highlighting the stark differences between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s campaigns. Obama voiced his endorsement of marriage equality on Wednesday, while Romney became mired in allegations he bullied gay fellow students while attending prep school.
When the story broke about Romney bullying a closeted gay student over his hairstyle, the former governor dished some damage control and a brief apology. Ed Schultz asked Aiken if the past incidents of bullying offer an accurate snapshot of Mitt Romney as a person.
“It’s frightening. As someone who had experience being bullied for being gay all through school, it gives me flashbacks and concerns me. While of course there are people who do change through life, I think his apology today was disheartening. Because it was sort of half-assed, if you will. To say ‘if I hurt someone’s feelings then I apologize for it’ – that’s not necessarily the type of apology that is warranted for something so severe. I mean, to hold someone down and cut their hair - that’s bullying, that’s abuse, really. And to kind of give a lackadaisical apology half-heartedly…that’s certainly not as strongly as I would like to see him come out against gay bullying,” Aiken said.
“I think he’s got an opportunity now to speak out and say bullying our LGBT youth is a problem in our schools and if he were in a position of power then he would do something about it, and he didn’t say anything like that.”