First openly gay U.S. Winter Olympian is putting Mike Pence’s anti-LGBT views front and center

Adam Rippon isn’t just going to pretend.

In a statement put out by his office this Wednesday afternoon, Vice President Mike Pence announced that he and his wife Karen will lead the U.S. Delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang next month. But USA Today is reporting that the first openly gay U.S. Winter Olympian is calling the VP out on his anti-LGBT history.

U.S men’s figure skating champion Adam Rippon reportedly scoffed upon hearing that Pence was leading the delegation.

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

Pence’s alleged support for gay conversion therapy is not an entirely settled matter. While the fact-checking website Politifact rated the claim as “True” last year, they later updated their report to point out that Pence “never explicitly advocated for conversion therapy in his statement and that he may have been pushing for safer sex practices.”

“Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior,” a statement on Pence’s 2000 congressional campaign website read. You be the judge.

It should be noted that conversion therapy has been roundly debunked.

From Politifact:

Pence’s words are open to other interpretations: Gay and lesbian leaders, for example, say his statement continues to give the impression that he supported the controversial practice of conversion therapy when his words are viewed in context with his long opposition to LGBT rights. Taking all of this into account, we are changing our rating to Half True and providing this new analysis.

Nevertheless, Pence’s penchant for an anti-LGBT worldview is well documented. He once said gay couples are indicative of a “societal collapse.” He opposed a law that prohibited discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace. He was a supporter of the anti-trans “bathroom bill” insanity. Even if he’s never outright endorsed conversion therapy, Pence has certainly cozied up to it.

Rippon’s direct shot at Pence is powerful for many reasons, one being the fact that it puts Pence’s disregard for the human rights of Americans on full display. As USA Today points out, Rippon has even refused to meet with Pence at the traditional meet-and-greet between delegation members and athletes.

“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,” Rippon said according to USA Today. “I wouldn’t go out of my way to meet somebody like that.”

But Rippon said he may have a change of heart under the right circumstances.

“If I had the chance to meet him afterwards, after I’m finished competing, there might be a possibility to have an open conversation. 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.”

Featured image via screenshot/YouTube

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