Sept. 25: Police detain a gay rights activist in Moscow. The poster, adorned with Olympic rings, reads “Homophobia is the shame of Russia!” Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images
Tennis great Billie Jean King and ice hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow are certainly qualified to be members of the U.S. delegation at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.
One is a winner of 39 “grand slam” tennis titles and has been honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom. The other is a two-time Olympic medal winner with Team USA.
Their inclusion, though, is also being seen as a message to Russia “for passing national laws banning ‘gay propaganda’ ” and other actions it has taken that have angered those who advocate for LGBT rights, The Associated Press says. King and Cahow are openly gay.
In addition, the White House is sending a signal by announcing who will not be attending the games, NPR’s Tamara Keith tells our Newscast Desk. “The delegation to the games won’t include the president or the vice president or their wives,” she says. “It also won’t include any current cabinet members.”
“This marks the first Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Summer Games that a U.S. president, vice president, first lady or former president has not been a member of the delegation for the opening ceremony, which will be Feb. 7 in Sochi,” USA Today says.
While the White House says President Obama’s schedule precludes him from going to Sochi, LGBT advocates are linking the decision to the Russian government’s views toward gays.
Human Rights First “applauds the decision not to include President Obama and the first lady or Vice President Biden and Dr. Biden in the official delegation, a decision that sends a powerful message to the Russian government of the Obama administration’s opposition to Russia’s crackdown against human rights.”
We wonder what everyone thinks about these decisions. Note, this isn’t a scientific survey of public opinion. It’s just a question.