Barack Obama is sending Russia a huge message about the country’s treatment of LGQBT individuals by selecting two openly gay athletes to sit on the U.S. delegation for the 2014 winter Olympic games that are to be held in Sochi. Tennis player Billie Jena King and hockey player Caitlin Cahow will be a pat of the team, Associated Press reports. Janet Napolitano, the former Homeland Security Secretary, will lead the delegation.
Russia has been heavily criticized for pushing for and defending national laws that ban what they have called “gay propaganda”.
Spokesman Shin Inouye said during the delegation announcement that the selected members of the delegation “represents the diversity that is the United States,” and that President Obama “knows they will showcase to the world the best of America—diversity, determination and teamwork.”
The president, first lady, and vice-president Joe will not be attending the games. This is the first time since 2000 that no president or former president will be present at an Olympic Game.
King told the AP that she is excited to have been named to be part of the delegation:
“I am equally proud to stand with the members of the LGBT community in support of all athletes who will be competing in Sochi, and I hope these Olympic Games will indeed be a watershed moment for the universal acceptance of all people.”
Other people also supported the President’s move.
“It’s a positive sign to see openly gay representatives in the delegation,” Michael Cole-Schwartz, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign said. “Hopefully it sends a message to the Russian people and the rest of the world that the United States values the civil and human rights of LGBT people.”