Saturday, 23 June, 2018

Gay athlete turns down Pence meeting

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Gay Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon made it clear he disapproved of the Trump administration's choice to send Vice President Mike Pence as the ceremonial head of the U.S. delegation.

Pence's alleged support of gay conversion therapy can be traced back to his 2000 congressional campaign website.

In that interview, Rippon added he would prefer not meeting the vice president during the usual meet-and-greet session between the official delegation and the Olympic athletes, which takes place just before the Olympics opening ceremony. Even in his initial interview with the newspaper, Rippon said: "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 personally have nothing to say to Mike Pence", Rippon wrote in January.

Alyssa Farah, a spokeswoman for the vice president, rebutted this claim. Farah did not reply to an email earlier this week seeking comment on this story.

Vice President Mike Pence is planning at least two stops in Nebraska to bolster Republican incumbents.

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The vice president attracted the ire of some in the LGBTQ community by signing Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law as governor of in in 2015, which critics claimed encouraged discrimination against gay people.

The 28-year-old Rippon is the first openly gay USA man to qualify for the Winter Olympics, though a number of Olympic figure skaters have come out as members of the LGBTQ community after their competitive days have ended. "The accusation is totally false with no basis in fact".

Sources told USA Today that a member of Pence's staff had reached out to US Olympic Committee to see if a sit-down meeting could be arranged in South Korea but Rippon refused.

Rippon had always made it clear that he had no interest in meeting Pence. "I'm not trying to pick a fight with the Vice President of the United States". But I don't think the current administration represents the values that I was taught growing up.

Both Rippon and Kenworthy said they would skip visiting the White House when President Donald Trump invites Team USA after the Olympics.

"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. "Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceSpace exploration is good for American jobs Trump approves Indiana Medicaid work requirements Democrat Manchin: Pence attacks prove "they don't want bipartisanship" in Trump admin MORE doesn't really stand for anything that I believe in".

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