By Ken Reed

President Barack Obama made two big announcements this week regarding the upcoming Sochi Olympics.

One, the U.S. won’t be sending a president, first lady, former president or vice president to the Winter Games. And two, Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow, two openly gay athletes, will be part of the United States delegation for the opening and closing ceremonies.

The move will help bring the world’s attention to the plight of LGBT athletes in general and serve as a magnifying glass for Russia’s crackdown on human rights, including national laws banning “gay propaganda.”

“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,” said King, who also said she was “deeply honored” to be named to the U.S. delegation.

As activist sports journalist Dave Zirin points out, neither the United States as a whole, or President Obama in particular, have sparkling track records when it comes to LGBT rights (Hey President Obama, did you know it is still legal to fire people on the basis of their sexuality in 29 U.S. states?). Nevertheless, President Obama did the right thing in appointing King and Cahow to the U.S. delegation for the Sochi Olympics.

It was another positive development for LGBT athletes in a year that has been full of them.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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