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Gay US Olympian: I won’t ‘go out of my way’ to meet Pence

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U.S. figure skater Adam Rippon on Tuesday said he would not “go out of his way” to meet Vice President Pence at the Winter Olympics next month in South Korea.

Rippon, the first openly gay U.S. athlete to be named to a Winter Olympic team, slammed the White House’s decision to send Pence to lead the U.S. Olympic delegation to Pyeongchang in an interview with USA Today.

“You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?” Rippon said. “I’m not buying it.”

“If it were before my event, I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt has gone out of their way to not only show that they aren’t a friend of a gay person but that they think that they’re sick,” he added. “I wouldn’t go out of my way to meet somebody like that.”{mosads}

Rippon criticized President Trump earlier this month and said that if invited to the White House, he would decline the invitation because he doesn’t think he would be “welcome” as a gay athlete.

The figure skater told USA Today that he was open to the “possibility” of meeting Pence after competing, adding that the vice president seems “more mild-mannered” than Trump.

“I don’t think the current administration represents the values that I was taught growing up,” Rippon said. “Mike Pence doesn’t stand for anything that I really believe in.”

Pence has long been seen as a top adversary to LGBTQ rights, supporting in 2006, when he was a congressman from Indiana, a proposed constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman. As governor of Indiana, he signed a controversial religious freedom law that opponents said would have legalized anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

Trump reportedly once joked that Pence “wants to hang” all gay people. 

In a statement emailed to The Hill, Pence’s team denied that he has ever supported conversion therapy.

“The Vice President is proud to lead the U.S. delegation to the Olympics and support America’s incredible athletes. The accusation is totally false with no basis in fact. But despite these misinformed claims, the Vice President will be enthusiastically supporting all the U.S. athletes competing next month in Pyeongchang,” the statement read.

Rippon said that Pence doesn’t have a “real concept of reality,” and slammed him for standing by Trump after incidents like the fallout over Trump’s recent “shithole countries” remark.

“To stand by some of the things that Donald Trump has said and for Mike Pence to say he’s a devout Christian man is completely contradictory,” Rippon said. “If he’s okay with what’s being said about people and Americans and foreigners and about different countries that are being called ‘shitholes,’ I think he should really go to church.”

Indeed, the pastor at a Maryland church service Pence attended on Sunday reportedly sharply criticized the “disrespectful, dehumanizing adjective” as Pence sat red-faced in the pews.

—Updated at 4:50 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Mike Pence

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