Peter Vidmar has resigned as chef de mission of the 2012 U.S. Olympics Team after some athletes criticized his role in supporting California’s Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative that eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry in the state.
Vidmar, who is LDS, told the Chicago Tribune he participated in the anti-gay-marriage campaign because the LDS Church invited it’s members to take a stand. Vidmar donated $2,000 toward the effort and participated in two demonstrations.
Johnny Weir, an Olympic figure skater who is gay, said it was "disgraceful" to have someone with Vidmar’s views as the symbolic head of an Olympic team.
Softball player Jessica Mendoza, an Olympic champion, also expressed disappointment with the the choice, saying she knows many gay athletes who will compete at the London Summer Games next year.
"The Olympics is to be inclusive of everyone, regardless of race, gender or sexuality," she told the Chicago Tribune.
Vidmar had insisted his views on marriage would not interfere with his ability to support every member of the U.S. team. But he resigned on Friday, eight days after being picked for the job.
"I wish that my personal religious beliefs would not have become a distraction from the amazing things that are happening in the Olympic movement in the United States. I simply cannot have my presence become a detriment to the U.S. Olympic family," Vidmar said in a statement. "I hope that by stepping aside, the athletes and their stories will rightly take center stage.’’
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