Brian Boitano, a member of the U.S. Olympic delegation, announced he was gay Thursday.
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama says the delegation he's sending to Russia for the Winter Olympics shows the United States doesn't make distinctions on the basis of sexual orientation.

Russia has come under fierce criticism for passing national laws banning ''gay propaganda.''

Obama's group heading to Sochi includes openly gay athletes Brian Boitano, Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow. He says the delegation ''speaks for itself,'' and they are world-class athletes who happen to be gay.

The Sochi Games are the first since 2000 to which the U.S. is not sending a president, former president, first lady or vice president.

Obama says it would be difficult for him to attend the games next year with all that's going on in Washington. But he predicted he will attend again after his presidency.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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