Bristol Palin is on team Mike Pence.
The conservative daughter of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin wrote a blog post last week criticizing Adam Rippon, the first openly gay male U.S. Olympian at the Winter Games, for refusing to meet with the vice president in protest against his position on homosexuality.
“The cool thing for athletes to do now, apparently, is to snub any invitations to the White House in order to take a stand against the Donald Trump administration … This is a great effort on behalf of the Vice President to reach out with kindness,” she wrote, referencing a supportive tweet Pence wrote to Rippon. “In today’s crazy political climate, it’s nice to be kind — even if we have different political views. I hope one day Adam and the Vice President have a chance to sit down together.”
“In the meantime, I hope Adam — and all of Team USA — do a great job representing our nation well,” she added.
According to USA Today, the 28-year-old figure skater reportedly turned down a request to meet with Pence after lambasting him for his position on LGBTQ rights. (Pence’s team disputed this account, referring instead to their outreach as an offer and not a request.)
The alleged request from a member of Pence’s staff came the same day USA Today published an interview with Rippon in which he said he wanted to skip the standard meet-and-greet event between Team USA athletes and the American delegation, which was being led by Pence for this year’s opening ceremony.
“You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?” Rippon, who publicly came out as gay in 2015, said in the Jan. 17 story. “I’m not buying it.”
Rippon also told USA Today he doesn’t think Pence “has a real concept of reality.”
“To stand by some of the things that Donald Trump has said and for Mike Pence to say he’s a devout Christian man is completely contradictory,” Rippon explained. “If he’s okay with what’s being said about people and Americans and foreigners and about different countries that are being called ‘s—holes,’ I think he should really go to church.”
Rippon later told PEOPLE he stood by his comments to USA Today.
“I just don’t think that’s right,” he said, “and I think there are so many people who also don’t think that’s right and I think right now more than ever I have this window of time to say what I feel and hopefully make a change.”
“My mom has always taught me to stand up for people who don’t have a voice,” he added.
Pence’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah, also told PEOPLE last month that the vice president does not and has never supported conversion therapy.
In a statement given to PEOPLE, Jarrod Agen, the vice president’s deputy chief of staff and communications director, refuted that Pence had asked to meet with Rippon. A White House official said that Pence’s chief of staff reached out to Rippon via U.S. Olympic officials only to clarify Pence’s position on conversion therapy.
But LGBTQ advocates have pointed to a 2000 statement on Pence’s congressional campaign website where he said that Congress should reauthorize a law funding HIV/AIDS treatment but “resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
Beyond the issue of gay conversion therapy, Pence — a self-described religious conservative — has taken multiple anti-LGBTQ positions over the years.
“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 of Pence. “I wouldn’t go out of my way to meet somebody like that.”
Pence later took to Twitter to personally respond to USA Today’s report and to Rippon.
“Headed to the Olympics to cheer on #TeamUSA,” he tweeted. “One reporter trying to distort 18 yr old non-story to sow seeds of division. We won’t let that happen! #FAKENEWS. Our athletes are the best in the world and we are for ALL of them! #TEAMUSA.”
He also wrote to Rippon directly, saying, “I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get ‘em!”
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Palin isn’t the only conservative figure who’s criticized Rippon. President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., mocked Rippon for mentioning Pence at a press conference in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Tuesday.
Asked about his exchange with Pence, Rippon told reporters, “I don’t want my Olympic experience being about Mike Pence.”
Trump Jr., who apparently missed Pence’s tweet about Rippon, slammed the figure skater on Twitter, saying: “Perhaps you shouldn’t have spent the past few weeks talking about [Pence]. I haven’t heard him mention you once???”
The 2018 Winter Olympics will air live starting Feb. 8 on NBC. To learn more, visit teamusa.org.
• With reporting by ADAM CARLSON