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Donald Trump, Mike Pence mark St. Patrick's Day with gay marriage, Brexit in spotlight  2 Months ago

Source:   USA Today  

WASHINGTON – While wearing festive green and toasting the Irish, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence marked St. Patrick's Day on Thursday with a spotlight on two contentious issues: gay rights and Brexit.

Pence, a prominent critic of gay marriage, hosted an annual ceremonial breakfast for Irish leader Leo Varadkar and his husband, Matthew Barrett, perhaps the most prominent gay couple in global politics.

In thanking Pence for his invitation, Varadkar said Ireland is a land where he is "judged by my political actions and not my sexual orientation, my skin tone, gender or religious beliefs ... We are all God's children."

This year's Pence-Varadkar breakfast was handled much differently than last year's event, which was closed to the press.

The vice president steered clear of politics in his public remarks, instead citing his family's Irish roots and telling Varadkar that "today the partnership between our two countries ... has never been stronger.”

During his visit last year,  Varadkar told reporters he did speak to Pence and his family about equality for the LGBTQ community.

"They knew that my partner was living in Chicago and they said that both Matt and I would be very welcome to visit their home in the future," Varadkar said. "I thought that was a very nice gesture.”

After Thursday's breakfast visit with the vice president, Varadkar went to the White House for his traditional meeting with the president – where he ran into a public discussion about Brexit, the United Kingdom's troubled effort to separate itself from the European Union.

Initially saying, "I'm not going to comment on Brexit," Trump went on to tell reporters that the subject is "tearing a lot of countries apart. And it’s a shame it has to be that way."

The president later pointed out that he predicted the Brexit position would prevail during the United Kingdom's referendum in 2016, "and I was right. And people laughed when I predicted it ... I'm surprised how badly it's all gone."

At one point, Trump invited Varadkar to talk about Brexit, whereupon the Irish leader aired his disagreement with Trump on the subject.

"We have a different opinion, President," he told Trump. "I regret that Brexit's happening and the UK was a really important part of the European Union. But they're going now and that's their decision."

The two leaders, who later attended a congressional lunch together, spoke more agreeably about trade and Irish-American issues in general.

"It's an enormous pleasure for Ireland, a small country, to have this annual meeting on account of St. Patrick's Day," he said, "and to have a chance to make even closer and tighter the bonds between the United States and Ireland."

 

 

 

 

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