To Russia, With Gays: Obama Includes 2 Lesbians in U.S. Olympic Delegation

By Penny Starr | December 18, 2013 | 8:33am EST

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (AP File Photo)

( - President Barack Obama has named at least two homosexuals to the delegation that will represent the United States at the upcoming Olympic winter games in Russia.

The move is seen as a jab at the Russian law that bans propagandizing about homosexuality to children.

Retired tennis star Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow, an Olympic medalist in women’s ice hockey, are both open lesbians. King will attend the opening ceremony and Cahow will attend the closing ceremony.

Notably, the U.S. delegation -- to be led by former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano -- does not include the president, first lady, vice president or any sitting cabinet secretary. Last year, Mrs.Obama led the U.S. delegation to the summer Olympics in London, but U.S. relations with Russia are frosty.

"President Obama is extremely proud of our U.S. athletes and looks forward to cheering them on from Washington," the White House said in a statement. "He knows they will showcase to the world the best of America -- diversity, determination and teamwork."

The other members of the delegation are U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, Obama adviser Robert Nabors, and former Olympic athletes Brian Boitano, Bonnie Blair and Eric Heiden.

The winter games begin on Feb. 7 in Sochi, Russia.

The controversy erupted this past summer, when Russia passed a law banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors."  

In August, President Obama told Jay Leno, "I have no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them."

In late October, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed tolerance, saying, "We will do our best, and our athletes and fans will do their best too, so that both participants and guests feel themselves comfortable at Sochi Olympics regardless of their ethnicity, race or sexual orientation. I would like to underline that," he added.

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