First Lady Michelle Obama and Jason Collins, the first openly gay active player in the NBA, headlined a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee Wednesday evening in New York City.
Speaking at the DNC’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Leadership gala in New York City, Collins, who publicly revealed he was gay for the first time last month, called the first lady “a steadfast champion for LGBT families,” who with her husband is working to convey that “the most important thing that defines a family is love.”
Collins said he hopes his announcement provides “courage to those still unsure about coming out and I hope it shows them the overwhelming amount of support that is waiting for them.”
“Jason, we are so proud of you. We are proud of your talent, your character, your courage, and we are so proud,” the first lady said. “He has just made the difference in the lives of so many of our young people. So let’s give one more round of applause to our friend, Jason Collins. We love you so much, Jason.”
The president and first lady both praised Collins when he publicly announced he was gay earlier this month. At the fundraiser, which included a performance by musician Sara Bareilles, the first lady lauded her husband and the LGBT community for striving to achieve equality for all.
“Because of you, we have a president who stands up for our most fundamental rights, from ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell… to supporting our right to marry the person we love,” Obama said.
The first lady attended an additional DNC fundraiser in New York City hosted at the home of fashion mogul Tory Burch. According to a pool report, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour was also in attendance. The first lady acknowledged the fashion powerhouses at the fundraisers saying many in the room have “helped me become the poised and stylish woman that I have become.”
Earlier in the day, Obama spoke at a fundraising event in Boston for Rep. Ed Markey’s Massachusetts Senate campaign.
While the first lady flexed her fundraising muscle on the East Coast, President Obama spoke at two fundraisers benefiting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in his hometown of Chicago Wednesday evening. The president highlighted the upcoming vote on same-sex marriages in the Illinois state legislature, saying it is something he “deeply” supports.
“America is probably more tolerant, more accepting of difference than any time in our history,” Obama said at a fundraiser at the home of Bettylu and Paul Saltzman in Chicago. “But we also know that there’s still a lot of people who are excluded in our society and we’ve got more work to do.”
“I wrestled with this for a long time and I am absolutely convinced it is the right thing to do,” he said of same sex marriage. “We have to make sure that wherever we go, we are reminding people that the essence of America is that everybody is treated equally under the law without exception.”
At an earlier fundraiser at the Chicago Hilton, the president showed off his music abilities, leading the crowd in singing Happy Birthday to DCCC Chairman Rep. Steve Israel.