President Trump and Vice President Penceat the White House Thursday during Varadkar’s annual trip ahead of St. Patrick’s Day. Varadkar brought a very special guest to breakfast at Pence’s residence at the Naval Observatory — his partner, Dr. Matthew Barrett.
“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,”said during the Friends of Ireland breakfast.
Varadkar — one of only a handful of openly gay world leaders — spoke about the changes he’s seen in his country on LGBTQ issues and his desire for other places around the world to follow Ireland’s lead. In 2015, Ireland’s citizensto legalize same-sex marriage — the first country to do so in a national popular vote.
“I lived in a country where, if I’d tried to be myself at the time, it would have ended up breaking laws,” the Irish prime minister said Thursday. “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, a conservative Christian, has opposed same-sex marriage throughout his career, as well as the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. He’s received harsh criticism from social activists for pursuing anti-LGBTQ policies during his time as governor of Indiana. In January, his wife, Karen Pence,for taking a teaching job at a Christian school that bans LGBTQ students and faculty. She did not attend the breakfast Thursday.
Pence called Varadkar’s remarks at the breakfast “inspiring.” “We’re also really honored to be joined by your partner, Dr. Matthew Barrett. He does great work at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago,” the vice president said.