- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Olympic freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy told daytime talk show host Ellen DeGeneres that Vice President Mike Pence is a “bad fit” to lead the 2018 U.S. Olympic delegation.

“It just seems like such a strange choice for me because I feel, like, we’re in 2018,” Mr. Kenworthy, who took home the silver medal in men’s freestyle skiing at the 2014 Winter Olympics, said Monday. “It’s just incredible to see how times have changed because of people like you and athletes in the past and so many people that have paved the way.

“But then to have someone leading the delegation that’s directly attacked the LGBT community and a Cabinet in general that sort of stands against us and have tried to set us back, it just seems like a bad fit,” he added. “And I feel like the Olympics is all about inclusion and coming together and it seems like it’s not really doing that.

“I agree with you,” Mrs. DeGeneres replied. “I think it’s a weird choice.”

Mr. Kenworthy and figure skater Adam Rippon are the first two openly gay male athletes to represent the U.S. in the Winter Olympics. Mr. Rippon similarly criticized Mr. Pence last month, saying he “wouldn’t go out of [his] way” to meet with the vice president if given the opportunity before the 2018 Olympics kick off in PyeongChang, South Korea.

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

The Olympic skater was referring to a common belief in the LGBT community that Mr. Pence supported gay conversion therapy when he was a congressional candidate in Indiana, based on a vague statement he made in 2000 that “resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” Mr. Pence has since denied ever supporting gay conversion therapy.

Mr. Pence‘s press secretary Alyssa Farah responded to Mr. Rippon’s comments at the time, saying the accusation that the vice president supported gay conversion therapy was “totally false.”

“The vice president is proud to lead the U.S. delegation to the Olympics and support America’s incredible athletes,” Ms. Farah said. “The accusation is totally false with no basis in fact. But despite these misinformed claims, the vice president will be enthusiastically supporting all the U.S. athletes competing next month in Pyeongchang.”

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