The Trump administration has claimed Mike Pence cannot be “anti-gay” because he has agreed to meet the Irish taoiseach and his same-sex partner during an official visit to Ireland.
“For all of you who still think our [vice-president] is anti-gay, I point you to his and the @SecondLady’s schedule tomorrow where they will join Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar and his partner Dr Matthew Barrett for lunch in Ireland,” Judd Deere, the White House deputy press secretary, tweeted on Monday.
Mr Pence, a devout Christian, has repeatedly supported anti-LGBT+ policies in the past, including as Indiana governor, when he voted against a bill banning discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation. He also opposed the repeal of a law preventing openly gay people from serving in the military.
“For those who think Mike Pence isn’t anti-gay, let me remind you that as Governor of Indiana, he pushed anti-LGBTQ policies so widely criticized that a corporate boycott of the state lost it tens of millions in revenue and made Pence the most unpopular governor in America,” tweeted Charlotte Clymer, press secretary at civil rights group Human Rights Campaign.
Mr Deere’s claim came on the same day Mr Pence flew to the west coast of Ireland to stay – at Mr Trump’s suggestion – at the Trump International Golf Club in Doonbeg, ahead of a series of meetings on Tuesday in Dublin, which is on the other side of the country.
Mr Pence and Karen Pence, the second lady, had lunch with Leo Varadkar and Matthew Barrett before the vice-president and the taoiseach held a joint press conference dominated by the UK’s impending exit from the European Union.
There Mr Pence appeared to side with British prime minister Boris Johnson, when he urged the EU to negotiate in “good faith” with Downing Street to reach a Brexit agreement that respects UK sovereignty.
"The United States supports the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union but we also recognise the unique challenges on your border and I can assure you we will continue to encourage the United Kingdom and Ireland to ensure any Brexit deal respects the Good Friday Agreement," Mr Pence said.
"But as the deadline for Brexit approaches, we urge Ireland and the European Union as well to negotiate in good faith with Prime Minister Johnson and work to reach an agreement that respects the United Kingdom's sovereignty and minimises disruption to commerce."
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