The White House delivered a strong message of opposition to Russia's anti-gay laws Tuesday with the announcement of its delegation to the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics.
The White House delegation will include an openly gay athlete: tennis great Billie Jean King.
It will not include the president, first lady or the vice president, all who headed the previous four Olympic delegations, or a cabinet secretary, only a former one. 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.
The delegation will also include openly gay Olympic medal-winning hockey player Caitlin Cahow:
"It's obviously a statement that's being made, but I think it's an incredibly respectful one," Cahow told USA TODAY Sports. "Basically, the White House is highlighting Americans who know what it means to have freedoms and liberties under the constitution. That's really what we're representing in Sochi and it's not at all different from what's espoused in the spirit of Olympism.”
The delegation also includes figure skater Brian Boitano, and that’s where that sentence ends, because apparently talking about his personal life is not one of the things Brian Boitano would do.
It’s a fun, in-your-face decision, though it’s not clear if it will have much of an impact beyond a signaling statement. Since Russia has decided to blame non-heterosexuals for its cultural ills, the blowback has arguably gone beyond anything President Vladimir Putin can control, even if he wanted to. Being openly gay (or even friendly to gays) has become increasingly dangerous in the country.
Bonus libertarian video! Something Brian Boitano would do is help John Stossel illustrate how “spontaneous order” works: