Thanks, Mitt Romney, For Making the Salt Lake City Games So Gay-Friendly!

With the world focused on London, it’s worth taking a look back at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, where then-organizer Mitt Romney helped make the Games “one of the most gay-friendly games in Olympic history.” Back then, human resources director Ed Enyon was meeting with gay activists, who wanted an LGBT presence on the Organizing Committee and in the SLC Games’ workforce.

According to Mother Jones writer Stephanie Mencimer, Enyon was on board—and so was Romney. “[Mitt] was very, very supportive of increasing the diversity of the workforce. He was proud that we met with these various groups and had them on committees. He was very appreciative and very complimentary,” Enyon tells Mencimer.

Given the heavy Mormon presence on the Salt Lake City Olympic Organizing Committee (SLOC), you might think that was just talk. But the committee came through:

The SLOC appointed two representatives to serve on the volunteer recruiting committee. One person—[Michael] Marriott—was tapped to represent gays. Salt Lake attorney Laura Miliken Gray was selected to represent the lesbians. Eynon also connected them with the director of international athlete services so they could reach out to LGBT athletes in other countries. In addition, SLOC set up volunteer recruiting booths at the Utah Pride festival and the Utah Gay Rodeo. It held job fairs at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. It even recruited volunteers in gay bars to make sure that the LGBT community was represented at the Games.

In 2012 that might seem like standard practice, but Romney’s approval helped make the 2002 Games one of the most LGBT-positive to date.

Gray says the Romney she encountered then was “fair minded and inclusive.” She’s singing a different tune now: “We were good enough to volunteer at the Olympics, but we’re not good enough for equal rights now.”

Photo: Seamas Culligan/ZUMA Press, dbking