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Challenging the Party Line

Challenging the Party LineInan op-ed published in the Boston Herald, Tufts graduate and UnitedLeaders founder Jesse Levey discusses the attitudes of his party– the Republican party – towards homosexuals.Medford/Somerville,Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [03.07.05] Though a loyal Republican all of his life, Tufts graduateJesse Levey – co-founder along with three other Tufts studentsof the nonprofit, nonpartisan political activism group UnitedLeaders – recently spoke out against what he perceives as"denigration of gay families" by Massachusetts Gov.Mitt Romney.

"I amafraid that the Republican Party has strayed from our historiccommitment to individual freedoms, especially on the issue ofgay marriage," Levey wrote in an opinion piece publishedin the Boston Herald.

In the op-ed,Levey – whose Republican involvement includes leading Tufts'College Republicans, campaigning for John McCain, and attendingthe 2000 Republican National Convention – criticizes Romney'srecent statements that call into question the validity of gayfamilies.

"Despitethe concerns of Romney, I survived my childhood in my loving lesbianfamily and I’m now a well-adjusted heterosexual adult andan entrepreneur leading my own company."

Accordingto its website, the goal of United Leaders goal is the "trainingthe next generation of idealistic political leaders." Theorganization offers fellowships and other educational and activismopportunities.

Levey explainedthat his mother was among many lesbians in the 1970s who had childrenvia donor insemination.

"As thechild of a lesbian mother myself, I feel alienated by Romney'sassertion that my family is somehow less valid and that my upbringingshould be shunned."

Romney's recentcriticism of gay marriage, wrote Levey, undermine his reasonsfor being a Republican.

"I joinedthe Republican Party because I believe in the rights of the individual.And my family has the right to live in peace without the leaderof my state maligning our very existence.

"TheRepublican Party I believe in celebrates individuality and personalfreedom and does not treat differences like a disease from whichone must be protected," he added.

Levey urgedRomney to consider these tenets in the future.

"As ourgovernor, Romney must represent all citizens in the Commonwealth– not just those who voted for him (of which I happen tobe one) or those who agree with him. I hope that Romney, as leaderof our state's Republican Party, will celebrate the triumph ofindividual freedoms," he wrote in the Herald.

Romney's recentovertures to conservatives in states like Utah and South Carolina,which included the remarks about gay families, are part of a politicalretooling by the governor, according to Tufts professor and politicalexpert Jeffrey Berry.

"It wasa good opening to get conservatives to take him seriously,"Berry told The Boston Globe. "It was a big success in termsof South Carolina and more broadly in other Republican conservativecircles. He has thrown down the marker to other Republicans thathe is going to be in the race, with the organization, know-how,and money."

But for Levey,politics shouldn't trump "the common good."

"Leadershipis about bringing people together and seeking the common good,not polarizing people by preying on their prejudices," hewrote in the Herald. "I understand Romney's policyobjections to gay marriage and don't fault him for his view. Butwhat common good is served by denigrating my family in the process?"






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