President Obama said on Tuesday he “couldn’t be prouder” of Jason Collins for coming out as gay and cited the NBA player’s announcement as an example of the recent progress the country has seen on behalf of the LGBT community.
Obama made the remarks during a news conference with reporters in the White House briefing room after reporters called him back to the podium to respond to Collins’ decision to come out.
“I’ll say something about Jason Collins,” Obama said. “I had a chance to talk to him yesterday. He seems like a terrific young man, and I told him I couldn’t be prouder of him. One of the extraordinary measures of progress that we’ve seen in this country has been the recognition that the LGBT community deserves full equality, not just partial equality, not just tolerance, but a recognition that they’re fully a part of the American family.”
Obama added the decision of Collins — who’s considered the first male player to come out as gay in a major league — is particularly important “given the importance of sports in our society.”
“For an individual who excelled at the highest levels in one of the major sports to go out and say, “This is who I am, and I’m proud of it. I’m still a great competitor. I’m still 7 foot tall and can bang with Shaq, and deliver a hard foul,” for, I think, a lot of young people out there who are gay or lesbian who are struggling with these issues to see a role model like that who’s unafraid, I think it’s a great thing,” Obama said.
Obama concluded, “And I think America should be part that this is just one more step in this ongoing recognition that we treat everybody fairly, and everybody’s part of the family, and we just people on the basis of their character and their performance, and not their sexual orientation. So, I’m very proud of him.”
Obama’s affirmation that he spoke with Collins on Monday is consistent with a Blade report on Monday that he reached out to Collins to express support and say he admired the courage of the player.
Watch the video here (courtesy Talking Points Memo)