U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is a hardline conservative who has made clear his views on homosexuality. Over the years, he has opposed marriage equality, as well as the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the U.S. military. Some LGBTQ groups have even referred to him as “the face of anti-LGBTQ hate in America.”
But that didn’t stop Leo Varadkar, the openly gay prime minister of Ireland, from bringing along his boyfriend, Matthew Barrett, when he was invited to a breakfast with Mike Pence in, Washington D.C., on Thursday morning.
According to Business Insider, the meeting was part of an annual trip by the Irish Taoiseach to reaffirm relations between the U.S. and Ireland ahead of St. Patrick’s Day on March 17.
The breakfast followed last year’s meeting between Pence and Varadkar behind closed doors, after which the Irish PM said that he had discussed the issue of LGBTQ rights with the vice president, and that he had been told he and his partner were “very welcome to visit their home in the future.”
When Varadkar and Barrett arrived for their breakfast on Thursday morning, the Irish PM took to Twitter to confirm their meeting, sharing a number of formal photos taken of their meeting.
Vice President Mike Pence invited me and Matt to his home at the Naval Observatory this morning. It’s great to be back here for a really warm reception. pic.twitter.com/Wkh2Ic8lWP— Leo Varadkar (@campaignforleo) March 14, 2019
Varadkar spoke of how the times have changed in Ireland, given that up until very recently being homosexual was considered to be a crime. Today, the country has a gay prime minister who proudly takes his partner with him to official engagements as any straight man in his position would do with his wife.
“I stand here leader of my country, flawed and human, but judged by my political actions and not my sexual orientation, my skin tone, gender, or religious beliefs. We are, after all, all God’s children.”
When Pence spoke, he avoided any mention of LGBTQ rights, but spoke instead about his family ties to Ireland and his intention to take a trip to the European nation with his mother, who was born in Ireland.
Pence’s wife Karen, who recently faced enormous backlash for taking a teaching position at a school that openly seeks to discriminate against homosexual students, staff, and even parents, did not attend the breakfast with her husband and Varadkar.
Following their breakfast at Pence’s home, Varadkar visited Capitol Hill where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hosted a St. Patrick’s Day lunch, before moving on the White House where he met with President Donald Trump for the annual Shamrock Ceremony.