Metro Weekly

Mike Pence calls his extreme homophobia “fake news” in response to gay Olympian

Figure skater Adam Rippon had previously criticized the choice of anti-gay Pence to lead the U.S. Winter Olympics delegation

Pence – Photo: Gage Skidmore

Vice President Mike Pence has called his lengthy and documented record of homophobia and transphobia “fake news” in response to criticism from a gay Olympic athlete.

Figure skater Adam Rippon slammed the choice of Pence to lead the U.S. delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea, telling USA Today, “Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy? I’m not buying it.”

“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 added.

Rippon later told the BBC that he wouldn’t go to the White House is he was invited, saying he wouldn’t “be welcome there.”

“I know what it’s like to go into a room and feel like you’re not wanted there,” he said.

Pence has hit back at Rippon’s claims in a series of tweets, calling accusations of homophobia and his support for conversion therapy “fake news.”

“Headed to the Olympics to cheer on #TeamUSA,” he tweeted. “One reporter trying to distort 18 yr old nonstory to sow seeds of division. We won’t let that happen! #FAKENEWS. Our athletes are the best in the world and we are for ALL of them!”

He then tweeted Rippon directly, telling him to not “let fake news distract you.”

“I want you to know we are FOR YOU,” Pence wrote. “Don’t let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get ‘em!”

Pence has a long record of anti-LGBTQ positions, including supporting conversion therapy. In a statement on his congressional campaign website in 2000, he argued for resources to be directed away from “organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus” and instead go towards “those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

As governor of Indiana, Pence supported the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” which allowed businesses and individuals to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

In addition, Pence opposes same-sex marriage, once telling Congress it would bring “societal collapse.” He opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And he opposed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have banned discrimination against people based on sexuality.

Last year, a New Yorker column alleged that Trump joked about Pence wanting to “hang” every gay person.

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.