A 2016 men's figure skating champion, who USA Today claims is the first openly gay U.S. Winter Olympian, slammed the White House's selection of Vice President Mike Pence to lead the 2018 delegation to South Korea. Adam Rippon's criticism of Pence came in a phone interview on Tuesday.
"You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy," asked Rippon. "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. I wouldn’t go out of my way to meet somebody like that."
The athlete then added that he might be more open to meeting him after the competition, adding that Pence seems to be more mild-mannered and open to calm conversation than President Trump.
“If I had the chance to meet him afterwards, after I’m finished competing, there might be a possibility to have an open conversation,” Rippon said. “He seems more mild-mannered than Donald Trump. … But I don’t think the current administration represents the values that I was taught growing up. Mike Pence doesn’t stand for anything that I really believe in.”
USA Today points out that it is a widely believed view that Mike Pence supports so-called "gay conversion therapy." Despite this assertion, however, Pence has not explicitly mentioned gay conversion therapy as something he supports. Vice President Pence has, however, remained throughout his life a staunch defender of traditional marriage, between a man and woman and open to children, which he views as a fundamental building block of the wider society.
According to Business Insider, Pence has long been a critic of same-sex marriage, claiming that the deterioration of society will always follow from the deterioration of marriage, life, and the family. For this reason, Pence has remained a defender not only of traditional marriage but also the right to life from conception to natural death.
Moreover, according to reports, Second Lady Karen Pence will also lead the United States delegation at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Pence and his wife will also visit Alaska and Japan on the trip in order to review intercontinental ballistic missile defense systems and to "reaffirm to the leaders of Japan and South Korea that the United States is fully committed to stability in the region."
Although Adam Rippon has been critical of the White House for choosing Vice President Mike Pence to lead the US delegation, it would actually be out-of-the-ordinary for them to pick anybody else. In fact, only once has the President, Vice President, or First Lady not been a member of the United States delegation since the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
This came in 2013 when Barack Obama chose to break tradition when he sent a message by selecting openly gay athletes Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow to represent the United States in Russia, a move that signaled US opposition to Russia's anti-gay laws.
The 2018 Winter Olympics begin on February 8th and the opening ceremonies will take place on February 9. The closing ceremony will then take place on February 25.
In other Olympic related news, many people are upset after what North Korea just announced they'll be doing at the Olympics.