United States Vice President Mike Pence is known for his conservative views. His strong views on same-sex marriages have always put him at odds with many international leaders who support LGBTQ rights. In Pence's opinion, "Societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family."
So it must have been an odd sight when Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, an openly gay leader, brought his boyfriend Mathew Barrett to breakfast with the vice president.
A video on Twitter showed an awkward interaction between Barrett and Pence as the Irish couple arrive at Pence's residence at the Naval Observatory. As the car which dropped the PM and his significant other at the doorstep pulls away, we see Pence and his wife Karen Pence interacting with Varadkar and Barrett. After both couples address each other, Varadkar is seen moving to the left, forcing Pence to talk to Barrett alone. Then the couples pose for photographs for the media with Barrett standing beside Pence.
Though the conversation is inaudible, The Irish Times reports Varadkar eventually told Pence that he’s proud to lead a country where he’s judged on his policies, not on his “sexual orientation or skin tone,” reportedly adding that “We are, after all, all God’s children.”
This was the Irish Prime Minister's second visit to the US and during his previous visit, he said, the VP and his wife had invited him and his partner to their "home in the future". "Last year you and Karen said that my partner, Matthew, would be welcome to join us, and we're both really honored to accept the invitation this year," Varadkar said during the Friends of Ireland breakfast.
Varadkar told the gathering about the changes he has seen in his own country. "I lived in a country where, if I'd tried to be myself at the time, it would have ended up breaking laws," he said.
"But today, that is all changed. I stand here, leader of my country, flawed and human, but judged by my political actions, and not by my sexual orientation, my skin tone, gender or religious beliefs."
Pence has been widely criticised for his staunch conservative views and opposition to same-sex marriage. He was also attacked for the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy which prohibited military personnel from discriminating against or harassing closeted homosexual or bisexual service members or applicants, while barring openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons from military service.
His entire career he has adopted anti-LGBTQ policies and was especially hard on the community during his tenure as the governor of Indiana.