Pence Calls Rippon 'Misinformed'
Olympic skater Adam Rippon clearly had thought a lot about Vice President Mike Pence heading up the U.S. delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea when he told USA Today Sports earlier this week he would not go out of his way to meet him. And Mike Pence clearly didn't give a lot of thought about his response, but clearly he was angry that the nation's first openly-gay athlete to qualify for Olympic winter games knew enough about his anti-gay beliefs to deliver an educated blow.
Rippon told USA Today Pence "funded gay conversion therapy," saying, "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."
Pence's office released a statement denying Rippon's claim.
"The vice president is proud to lead the U.S. delegation to the Olympics and support America's incredible athletes," the statement says, according to The Nation's Dave Zirin. "This accusation is totally false and has no basis in fact. Despite these misinformed claims, the vice president will be enthusiastically supporting all the U.S. athletes competing next month in Pyeongchang."
But Pence does support - or has supported - "conversion," or "reparative" therapy, that falsely purports to make gay people straight. Judges have ruled conversion therapy is fraud. Nearly every major medical association in the U.S. and many around the world have positions stating it sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) not only do not work, but can be harmful. There are too many cases that show it can lead to suicide or suicide attempts.
Mike Pence didn't bother to make a statement against conversion therapy and just how harmful it can be, although he could have. He didn't care to take this opportunity to show actual support for the nation's first openly-gay athlete to qualify for Olympic winter games. He didn't care to apologize for his past statement supporting conversion therapy. He didn't care to use this opportunity for anything except pushing back against Rippon.
At The Nation, Zirin notes that Pence's website for his 2000 congressional campaign (here's an archived copy) included the position that "Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior."
The Vice President calls Rippon's remarks "baseless." Clearly they are not. He says Rippon's "accusation is totally false and has no basis in fact." Clearly that's false.
Rippon didn't totally refuse to talk with Pence.
"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 also told USA Today.
"He seems more mild-mannered than Donald Trump," the Olympic skater added. "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."
Zirin also talked with Outsports co-founder Cyd Zeigler.
"The most important piece of what Adam said about Mike Pence is his willingness to sit down with the vice president for an open conversation," Zeigler told Zirin. "We have let the divisions in our country get way out of hand, and Adam's openness to conversation with someone he disagrees with shows the leadership we've come to expect from our greatest American athletes. I wish we would all take his lead."
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