Obama Taps Gay Athletes for Russian Olympic Ceremonies

LGBT-rights pioneer Billie Jean King is attending.

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LGBT activist and tennis great Billie Jean King, left, and openly gay silver medal-winning hockey player Caitlin Cahow are headed to Russia as part of the official U.S. presidential delegation.
LGBT activist and tennis great Billie Jean King, left, and openly gay silver medal-winning hockey player Caitlin Cahow are headed to Russia as part of the official U.S. presidential delegation.

Tennis great and LGBT activist Billie Jean King, along with openly gay and silver medal-winning hockey player Caitlin Cahow, is being sent to the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia as part of the official presidential delegation, the White House announced Tuesday. This in spite of the looming controversy over Russia's anti-gay laws and whether top officials around the world would be skipping the Olympics in protest.

While the president and first lady won't be going, former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is leading the delegation to the opening ceremony, along with U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation Michael McFaul and Deputy Chief of Staff Robert Nabors. Brian Boitano, figure skating gold medalist, also will join King.

[READ: Athletes Face Challenges in Speaking Out Against Russia's Anti-Gay Laws]

Speed skaters Bonnie Blair and Eric Heiden, along with Cahow, are on tap for the closing ceremony, with Deputy Secretary of State William Burns leading the group.

McFaul will also be part of the official delegation to the closing ceremony.

"There will be a presidential delegation, which means that there will be no boycotts whatsoever from our government," McFaul said Tuesday to Radio Free Europe before the list was announced. "Other countries have their own approaches, but the U.S. will send its official presidential delegation."

The leaders of France and Germany announced earlier this month that they would not be going to the games, a move many viewed as a snub to Russia for enacting the country's "gay propaganda" ban.

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