Peter Vidmar on Friday resigned from
his appointment as chef de mission for the 2012 U.S. Olympic
team after it was brought to light that he attended two anti-gay
marriage rallies in 2008.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist and
chairman of USA Gymnastics was appointed to the post last week by the
U.S. Olympic Committee. His position, which he was to share with
Aimee Mullins, was to provide overall leadership to Team USA.
Response to reports that Vidmar
supported passage of Proposition 8, California's gay marriage ban,
with a $2,000 donation was mostly negative.
The 49-year-old told the Chicago
Tribune on Thursday that his views on gay marriage would not
affect how he treated gay athletes.
“I fully respect the rights of
everyone to have the relationships they want to have,” Vidmar said.
“I respect the rights of all our athletes, regardless of their
race, their religion or their sexual orientation. I will cheer and
do all I can, passionately, for every athlete on the U.S. Olympic
Two-time Olympian and three-time U.S.
National Figure Skating champion John G. “Johnny” Weir, who came
out gay in his memoir Welcome to my World, called Vidmar's
“It's wrong,” Weir said. “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,” he added.
Vidmar said in a statement that he was
sorry that his personal religious beliefs had become a distraction.
"I have dedicated my life to the
Olympic movement and the ideals of excellence, friendship and
respect. 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. I hope that
by stepping aside, the athletes and their stories will rightly take
center stage,” Vidmar said.