Openly gay tennis legend Billie Jean King will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a ceremony on Aug. 12. King and Harvey Milk are the two openly gay people receiving the award in August. Jack Kemp joins King as the only sports figures on the latest list.
Some gay people consider it a lovely gesture to include King and Milk, and some consider it a hollow gesture from a White House that has not acted more quickly to overturn Don't Ask Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act. The White House's description of King is after the jump.
Billie Jean King was an acclaimed professional tennis player in the 1960s and 1970s, and has helped champion gender equality issues not only in sports, but in all areas of public life. King beat Bobby Riggs in the "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match, then the most viewed tennis match in history. King became one of the first openly lesbian major sports figures in America when she came out in 1981. Following her professional tennis career, King became the first woman commissioner in professional sports when she co-founded and led the World Team Tennis (WTT) League. The U.S. Tennis Association named the National Tennis Center, where the US Open is played, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in 2006.