President Obama, an avid basketball fan, personally called Jason Collins Monday to congratulate the free Agent NBA player on coming out in an interview with Sport Illustrated.
On Tuesday, Obama made a point of saying nice things about Collins and his decision to become the first openly gay NBA player. The President wasn’t at first asked about Collins during a news conference with reporters, but he came back to the podium to say this:
Yeah, I’ll say something about Jason Collins. I had a chance to talk to him yesterday. He seems like a terrific young man, and, you know, I told him I couldn’t be prouder of him. You know, 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.
And, you know, given the importance of sports in our society, for an individual who’s excelled at the highest levels in one of major sports go ahead and say, this is who I am, I’m proud of it, I’m still a great competitor, I’m still seven feet tall and can bang with Shaq and, you know, deliver a hard foul — and for, you know, a lot of young people out there who, you know, are — are — are, you know, 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. And I think America should be proud that this is just one more step in this ongoing recognition that we treat everybody fairly. And everybody’s part of a — part of a family, and we judge people on the basis of their character and their performance, and not their sexual orientation. And so
I’m very proud of him. All right?