April 30, 2013 at 1:21 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Obama ‘very proud’ of Collins for coming out
Barack Obama talked about Jason Collins during a news briefing on Tuesday (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

President Obama talked about Jason Collins during a news briefing on Tuesday (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

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)

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • peter rosenstein

    I had assumed Chris that you called him back to the podium. But so much of the reporters focus on LGBT questions comes from your persistance with Jay Carney. Keep up the great reporting.

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