Vice President Mike Pence shared a meal with Ireland’s out Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar and his partner, Dr. Mike Barrett.
The visit raised some eyebrows considering Pence’s record of hostility to LGBTQ rights. But the Republican politician stressed the bonding ties between Ireland and the United States.
“Since the beginning of our republic, there has been a remarkable bond between our two nations,” Pence tweeted on his official vice president account. “Thanks to the leadership of President @realDonaldTrump and Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar, the relationship between the United States and Ireland has never been stronger.”
The account also shared pictures of Pence and wife Karen alongside Varadkar and Barrett.
That’s notable considering that when Varadkar met with Pence in Washington, D.C., in March, Karen Pence was traveling abroad in an antigay country. She also teaches art at an anti-LGBTQ private religious school.
But during public remarks after his visit with Varadkar, Pence focused his comments on foreign policy. He brought a message from President Donald Trump about negotiating in earnest with the United Kingdom over Brexit, according to Irish news outlet The Journal.
Varadkar, ironically, discussed the need for physical barriers between Ireland and the U.K. territory of North Ireland.
“I know that you understand the impact a hard border will have on us on this island — barriers to the free movement of people and frictionless trade; barriers to north-south cooperation; the risk that the Good Friday Agreement and peace will be undermined,” Varadkar said.
So if gay rights played no role in the meeting, there still was plenty of talk about building walls.
Of course, not all who heard of the dining and diplomacy felt the meal erased Pence's history with LGBTQ rights.
"I’ve sat at tables with people who would gladly deny me the right to marry, who openly support conversion therapy, and who adamantly believe being gay is a choice," noted Chasten Buttigieg, husband to presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.
"Doesn’t mean they’re any less homophobic because we shared a meal."