By Grainne Ni Aodha PA, in Washington DC
The Taoiseach has hailed the US as trailblazers on LGBT rights issues as he met vice president Kamala Harris in Washington.
Mr Varadkar thanked Ms Harris for her own advocacy and for being a “strong ally” to the LGBT community as he and partner Matt Barrett attended a breakfast event at her residence on St Patrick’s Day morning.
The Taoiseach and Mr Barrett were also guests at the traditional breakfast held by then-vice president Mike Pence in 2019.
There had been questions at that time whether Mr Barrett would attend due to Mr Pence’s views on homosexuality.
In his speech on Friday, Mr Varadkar said: “Thank you very much Madam Vice President for inviting Matt and me to be here in your beautiful home and for continuing that very special tradition, which was initiated by President Biden when he was resident here.
“As doctors and as proud members of the LGBT community, allow us to say how inspired we’ve been by your personal advocacy for marriage equality, particularly in relation to Proposition 8 (a move to prohibit same-sex marriage in California that Ms Harris campaigned against), also your defence of affordable healthcare.”
Mr Varadkar said America had “led the way when it comes to LGBT equality”.
“I don’t think I would be here today were it not for what America did,” he added.
“I know you’ve been such a strong ally to our community in that regard.”
The morning meeting at the vice president’s residence was the starting point for the Irish premier’s day of high-level engagements in the US capital.
Mr Varadkar and Mr Barrett posed for photos with Ms Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff when they arrived at her residence early on Friday morning.
The vice president said she was pleased to resume a tradition that had been paused due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
She also used her remarks at the breakfast event to describe the new EU/UK deal on post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland as an “essential step” to ensure peace and progress in the region.
Ms Harris highlighted President Joe Biden’s support for the Windsor Framework.
She said Northern Ireland’s peace was hard-won and should be cherished.
The vice president said the US administration viewed issues around Northern Ireland and the need to preserve the fundamentals of the Good Friday peace agreement “very seriously”.
“As President Biden has said, the Windsor Framework is an essential step to ensure peace and progress, and to ensure that it is strengthened and preserved,” she said.