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Background check could have prevented Olympic hiring mishap

May 14, 2011 Matt Roesly

Peter Vidmar, a three-time Olympic medalist who was recently appointed chief de mission by the United States Olympic Committee for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team has stepped down, according to The Boston Globe. Vidmar left his post following a rash of negative press he received after his views on same-sex marriage became public, the news source adds. In 2008, Vidmar allegedly participated in two anti-gay marriage demonstrations and donated $2,000 for the successful 2008 Proposition 8 ballot initiative in California that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Vidmar, a Mormon, is a member of a church that vigorously opposes same-sex marriage. His role as chief could have been compromised due to his beliefs, because as a representative of his country's athletes, officials and staff, tension may have arose given the number of gay members participating. "I simply cannot have my presence become a detriment to the U.S. Olympic family," Vidmar told the media outlet upon resigning. "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, and I hope that by stepping aside, the athletes and their stories will rightly take center stage." Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir, who is openly gay, expressed his disdain for Vidmar's hiring to The Chicago Tribune. "I certainly wouldn't want to be represented by someone who is anti-gay marriage," Weir told the news source. "The fact this man who is very publicly against something that may be represented on the American team is disgraceful." The Globe points out that a simple background check of Vidmar's history would have revealed that he gave money in support of Proposition 8. A replacement for Vidmar has not been announced. However, the controversy surrounding Prop 8 extends beyond the world of international sporting events. U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who, in August, ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional, may have his ruling vacated because it was learned that he was involved in a long-term, same-sex relationship throughout the length of the case. This has led many to believe his ruling was not impartial. "Indeed, such a personal interest in his own marriage would place Chief Judge Walker in precisely the same shoes as the two couples who brought the case," defense attorney Charles Cooper, told Keen News Service. "Such a clear and direct stake in the outcome would create a non-waivable conflict, and recusal would have been mandatory."