Gay figure skating star refuses to meet with Mike Pence during the Winter Olympics — and Pence fires back, saying he's 'misinformed'

  • Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon, who is openly gay, turned down a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence after publicly criticizing Pence's record on LGBTQ rights.
  • Pence, who will lead the US delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, reached out to Rippon after reading his criticism, according to a USA Today report.


Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon, the first openly gay athlete to win a spot on the US Winter Olympics team, turned down a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence after publicly criticizing Pence's record on LGBTQ rights, according to a Wednesday USA Today report

"You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy? I'm not buying it," Rippon said last month, referencing the controversial and scientifically discredited practice that seeks to alter an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Pence, who will lead the US delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, reportedly reached out to Rippon after reading his critical remarks last month, two sources told USA Today, but the skating champion refused to engage with him. Pence's staff called Rippon's comments "misinformed." 

"The vice president is proud to lead the U.S. delegation to the Olympics and support America's incredible athletes," Pence's press secretary, Alyssa Farah, told USA Today. "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."

39 PHOTOS
Adam Rippon, the US' first openly gay Winter Olympian
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Adam Rippon, the US' first openly gay Winter Olympian
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Adam Rippon of the United States skates during the Men's Single Skating section of the Team Event on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 12, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Amin Mohammad Jamali/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA FEBRUARY 12, 2018: Figure skater Mirai Nagasu of the United States with her coach Tom Zakrajsek (L-R front) wait for the score after performing during the ladies' free skating event as part of the figure skating team event at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, at the Gangneung Ice Arena. Pictured back are figure skaters Alexa Scimeca Knierim, Bradie Tennell, Adam Rippon, Chris Knierim, and Nathan Chen. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 13: United States Figure Skater Adam Rippon speaks during a press conference at the Main Press Centre on February 13, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA FEBRUARY 12, 2018: Figure skater Adam Rippon of the United States performs during the men's free skating event as part of the figure skating team event at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, at the Gangneung Ice Arena. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 07: Adam Rippon skates in the Smucker's Skating Spectacular during the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the SAP Center on January 7, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 06: Adam Rippon confers with coach Rafael Arutunian before skating in the Men's Free Skate during the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the SAP Center on January 6, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 06: Adam Rippon competes in the Men's Free Skate during the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the SAP Center on January 6, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 04: Adam Rippon competes in the Men's Short Program during the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the SAP Center on January 4, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 04: Adam Rippon reacts to his score in the kiss and cry with his coaches Rafael Arutunian and Derrick Delmore after skating in the Men's Short Program during the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the SAP Center on January 4, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
NAGOYA, JAPAN - DECEMBER 10: Adam Rippon of the USA performs his routine in the Gala exhibition during the ISU Junior & Senior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final at Nippon Gaishi Hall on December 10, 2017 in Nagoya, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
LAKE PLACID, NY - NOVEMBER 25: Adam Rippon of the United States looks on prior to competing in the Men's Free Skating during day two of 2017 Bridgestone Skate America at Herb Brooks Arena on November 25, 2017 in Lake Placid, New York. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
LAKE PLACID, NY - NOVEMBER 25: Adam Rippon of the United States performs in the Mens Free Skate program on Day 2 of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating at Herb Brooks Arena on November 25, 2017 in Lake Placid, United States. (Photo by Maddie Meyer - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
This picture taken on November 11, 2017 shows Adam Rippon of the US during the award ceremony of the men's free skating event in the NHK Trophy figure skating competition in Osaka. / AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 25: Figure skater Adam Rippon poses for a portrait during the Team USA Media Summit ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games on September 25, 2017 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 25: Figure skater Adam Rippon poses for a portrait during the Team USA Media Summit ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games on September 25, 2017 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
USA's Adam Rippon competes in the senior men short program at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, on December 8, 2016 in Marseille, southern France. / AFP / ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT (Photo credit should read ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 12: Adam Rippon of the United States competes during Men's Free Skating on day two of the Trophee de France ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating at Accorhotels Arena on November 12, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Joosep Martinson - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22: Adam Rippon of the United States waits for his score to be announced on day 2 of the Grand Prix of Skating at the Sears Centre Arena on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Men Single Skating short program competition ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 16, 2018 - Adam Rippon of the U.S. performs. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Men Single Skating short program competition ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 16, 2018 - Adam Rippon of the U.S. performs. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Adam Rippon of USA during the Figure Skating Men Short Program on day seven of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Adam Rippon of USA during the Figure Skating Men Short Program on day seven of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Adam Rippon of the United States reacts after competing during the Men's Single Skating Short Program at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Adam Rippon of the United States reacts after competing during the Men's Single Skating Short Program at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Adam Rippon of the United States reacts after competing during the Men's Single Skating Short Program at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Adam Rippon of the United States reacts after competing during the Men's Single Skating Short Program at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Adam Rippon of the United States competes during the Men's Single Skating Short Program at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Adam Rippon of the United States competes during the Men's Single Skating Short Program at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 13: United States Figure Skater Adam Rippon speaks during a press conference at the Main Press Centre on February 13, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 13: United States Figure Skater Adam Rippon speaks during a press conference at the Main Press Centre on February 13, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: (L-R) Bronze medalists Nathan Chen, Adam Rippon, Mirai Nagasu and Bradie Tennell of Team United States celebrate during the medal ceremony after the Figure Skating Team Event at Medal Plaza on February 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
USA's Adam Rippon reacts after finishing his routine in the figure skating team event men's single skating free skating during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
USA's Adam Rippon (C) reacts after competing in the figure skating team event men's single skating free skating during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Adam Rippon of the United States competes in the Figure Skating Team Event � Men's Single Free Skating on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 12, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
January 4, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; Adam Rippon reacts in kiss and cry in the mens short program during the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
January 6, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; (L-R) Second place Ross Miner, first place Nathan Chen, third place Vincent Zhou, and fourth place Adam Rippon pose for a photo after the men's free skate program during the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Training ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 7, 2018 - Adam Rippon of the U.S. during practice. REUTERS/John Sibley
Figure Skating - ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating NHK Trophy - Men's Winners Ceremony - Osaka, Japan - November 11, 2017 - Silver medalist Adam Rippon of the U.S. celebrates during the victory ceremony. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Figure Skating - ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Trophee de France 2016/2017 - Men's Free Skate - Paris, France - 12/11/16 - Adam Rippon of United States skates. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
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Rippon said multiple times that he did not want to engage with the vice president before competing in the Olympics, but that he was open to a discussion after the games. 

"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 told USA Today.

He went on, "I'm not trying to pick a fight with the vice president of the United States. 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, who has talked about being bullied and teased as a kid growing up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, argued that Pence "doesn't stand for anything" that he believes in.

"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," he said. 

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VP Mike Pence visits South Korea
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VP Mike Pence visits South Korea
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea, April 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is greeted by National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun during their meeting in Seoul, South Korea, April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence talks with National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun during their meeting in Seoul, South Korea, April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence shakes hands with U.S. soldier during a meeting with U.S. and South Korean soldiers at Camp Bonifas near the truce village of Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence answers a reporter's question at the truce village of Panmunjom, South Korea, April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence looks toward the north from an observation post inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stands next to his daughter looking toward the north through a pair of binocular from an observation post inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea, April 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence arrives at Camp Bonifas near the truce village of Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence shakes hands with commander General Vincent K. Brooks during an Easter fellowship dinner at a military base in Seoul, South Korea, April 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, left, burns incense at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, April. 16, 2017. REUTERS/Ahn Young-joon/Pool
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, third left, shakes hands with military officials at Camp Bonifas near the truce village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, on Monday, April 17, 2017. Pence�encouraged China to take action against North Korea while he met with troops a day after Kim Jong Un's regime defied the Trump administration with a ballistic missile test. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - APRIL 16: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence arrive at Osan airbase on April 16, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. During the three day visit to South Korea, Vice President Pence will spend Easter Sunday with the U.S. and S. Korean troops and their families. He will also meet with Korea's acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn, the national assembly speaker Chung Sye-kyun and local business leaders. (Photo by Song Kyung-Seok-Pool/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - APRIL 17: (L to R) U.S. Vice President Mike Pence talks with South Korean acting president and prime minister Hwang Kyo-ahn during their meeting on April 17, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. During the three day visit to South Korea, Vice President Pence spends Easter Sunday with the U.S. and S. Korean troops and their families, meet with Korea's acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn and the national assembly speaker Chung Sye-kyun, then meet with the local business leaders. (Photo by South Korean Acting President and Prime Minister Office- Pool/Getty Images)
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Pence, an evangelical Christian, has long opposed same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBTQ individuals, and has argued that "homosexuality is incompatible with military service." 

While Pence's spokespeople have denied that he supports conversion therapy, which is banned in several states, a statement on an archived version of his 2000 congressional campaign website appears to indicate his support for the practice.

"Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior," he wrote. 

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