Mike Pence’s history of anti-LGBT policies is notorious. As a result, his D.C. neighbors have trolled him with Pride flags, but that hasn’t prompted Pence to rethink his stances — in fact, he was reportedly a driving force behind Trump’s attempt to ban transgender troops from the U.S. military. Yet he was seemingly stunned as to why openly gay Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon criticized Pence’s selection as U.S. delegation leader for Pyeongchang Winter Games opening ceremony. Pence’s team tried to set up a meeting to clear the air, so to speak, and as USA Today reveals, Rippon shut him down:
According to two people with knowledge of the situation who were not authorized to speak publicly about it, a member of Pence’s staff requested the conversation with the openly gay Rippon after reading the skater’s derogatory remarks about him in a USA TODAY Sports story that had been published online just an hour earlier.
Rippon, the two people said, declined the invitation.
The feud is a somewhat convoluted one, but things heated up a few weeks ago when a disgusted Rippon, while reacting to Pence’s impending ceremonial role, told reporters, “You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy? I’m not buying it.”
Pence was apparently floored, and his team issued a statement to USA Today, insisting that any claim that he supported conversion therapy was “totally false.” And while it’s true that the term “conversion therapy” has never publicly dropped from Pence’s mouth, his 2000 campaign website did state the following:
“Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
Obviously, Pence’s team is taking the literal route here in an effort to erase any suggestion that the governor famous for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act would ever suggest that conversion therapy should be a thing. For what it’s worth, Rippon has stated that he might consider meeting with Pence at a later date, but prior to competition, he’s not wasting time with anyone “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.” And that is that.