Obama and Biden are sending two out gay delegates to Sochi, but avoid delivering a meaningful statement to protest anti-gay policies.
The White House announced today that two openly gay athletes—tennis legend Billy Jean King and hockey player Caitlin Cahow—will join former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and figure skating gold medalist Brian Boitano as part of the 10-member U.S. Olympics delegation to Russia, a country that upholds some abhorrent anti-gay laws—any public display of homosexuality is a crime and violent gay-bashing is happening with frightening regularity—and promises to arrest pro-human-rights protesters. But two other names were noticeably absent from the list of attendees: Both President Obama and Vice-President Biden will not attend, saying they can’t find room in their busy schedules to make it to the games in Russia. But unlike the presidents of France and Germany, Francois Hollande and Joachim Gauck, respectively, who announced they would not attend with no elaboration, the White House decided to come up with a lame excuse that glosses over what we hope to be the true reason they’re not going—these civil rights atrocities. Many newspapers have said the move is sending a strong signal to Russia about their bigoted and dangerous LGBT stance, but the American leaders’ announcement doesn’t exactly set my gaydar flashing. While sending two gay athletes is a valiant effort, how can it be a “pointed snub,” as the Washington Post calls it, without any pointing? Ask anyone in a relationship who’s been repeatedly told by a significant other that he or she is too busy to meet for dinner. A break-up hasn’t happened until it’s spoken out loud. The U.S. has already decided not to boycott the Olympics, so let’s at least make a real statement about equal rights and not hide in the closet behind busy schedules.
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