May 10, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Just eight days after being named the U.S. chef de mission for the 2012 Olympic Games, Gold Medalist Peter Vidmar resigned his position after criticism from gay activists and athletes because of his support of true marriage.
Vidmar, 49, received two Olympic gymnastics gold medals in 1984 in Los Angeles. He is chairman of the board of USA Gymnastics, has served on the President’s Council for Physical Fitness, and is a prominent motivational speaker, among many other achievements.
A strong Mormon, Vidmar drew a firestorm of negative media attention after it was revealed that in 2008, he donated $2,000 to the successful campaign for Proposition 8 in California – a ballot initiative that overturned a Supreme Court ruling that permitted same-sex “marriage.” He has also participated in marriage rallies in the past.
“The Church wanted to take a stand on the issue, and they invited their members to take a stand,” Vidmar frankly told the Chicago Tribune. “I chose to be involved.”
The U.S. Olympic Committee has said Vidmar’s involvement in the same-sex “marriage” debate was unknown to them at the time of his appointment as head of the U.S. Olympic team. However, Vidmar said he has “never tried to hide this.”
As chef de mission, Vidmar would have been the liaison officer for the U.S. team in all relations with the International Olympic Committee and organizers. Although Vidmar explained that his beliefs on marriage would not affect his position as head of the U.S. team, some fellow athletes have been quick to speak out against his leadership.
“It’s wrong,” said well-known gay U.S. Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir. “I certainly wouldn’t want to be represented by someone who is anti-gay marriage. It isn’t just about marriage, it is being allowed equal rights as Americans. The fact this man who is very publicly against something that may be represented on the American team is disgraceful.”
Vidmar, however, has maintained he would “respect the rights of all our athletes, regardless of their race, their religion or their sexual orientation.”
“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,” said Vidmar, in a statement released by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
“Peter is respected the world over for his dedication and commitment to the Olympic movement and is rightly considered one of America’s great Olympic champions,” said U.S. Olympic Committee EO Scott Blackmun. “I believe Peter would have served our athletes well but given the nature of this issue, I certainly respect his decision to resign.”
Meanwhile, Maggie Gallagher, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, told CitizenLink that the organized movement behind Vidmar’s resignation clearly came from the homosexual activist network.
“Simply because he donated to Prop. 8, he was declared by the gay rights movement to be unacceptable for public office,” she said. “This is a campaign to stigmatize, marginalize and repress faith communities’ views on marriage.”
Gallagher said Vidmar had little choice in his resignation. “Peter Vidmar is one of the leading corporate motivational speakers. That’s how he makes a living,” she said. “When the gay rights movement decided to go after him, he recognized that his entire career, his entire livelihood, could be severely damaged.”
“I simply cannot have my presence become a detriment to the U.S. Olympic family,” said Vidmar upon resignation. “I hope that by stepping aside, the athletes and their stories will rightly take center stage.”