During a Tuesday morning press conference, President Obama shared a bit of the conversation he had with Jason Collins Monday night after calling to congratulate him on his decision to announce that he is gay, as reported in The Hill.
Obama said Collins seemed like a terrific young man and that he was proud of him for the decision. Obama called him a great role model for young athletes and the younger generation. “The LGBT community deserves full equality, not partial equality,” said the president. He concluded with, “people should be judged by their character and performance, not their sexuality.”
In addition, White House spokes person Jay Carney was quoted in The Hill as putting it this way:
“Here at the White House we view this as another example of the progress we’ve made and the evolution that has taken place,” Carney said. “We commend him on his courage and support him in this effort and hope that his fans and his team support him going forward.”
In addition, Michelle Obama sent a Tweet to Collins in another sign of the times:
So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We’ve got your back! –mo
The 7 feet, 255 pound center is currently a free agent, but he played for both the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards during this season.
This week Collins came out in a self-written article published in Sports Illustrated. He said that his friend, Rep. Joe Kennedy helped to nail his decision after talking about marching in a previous gay pride parade, because he supports the civil rights of gays, although he is straight.
“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay,” Collins put it simply in article.
On Tuesday, the subject of Collins’ decision to come out was on all the talk programs. The Today Show’s, Matt Lauer had Martina Navratilova on as a guest. She is a long-time advocate of gay rights, who was one of the first female athletes to come out decades ago. She praised Collins’ move and said it will make things better if it prevents even one young man from taking his own life in the self-identity struggle that every gay human being must transcend.
“He will sleep better at night,” concluded Navratilova’s comments on Jason Collins.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with support extended by other NBA players, like Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.
Obama had always been a supporter of gay rights, but admittedly struggled with the issue of gay marriage until coming out on the other side of his own personal journey in support of its legalization.
The Supreme Court is anticipated to rule on two gay marriage cases sometime in June. LGBT advocates hope the justices are noticing the cultural shift that has been taking place and the history that is being made.
President Obama is on the right side of this civil and human rights issue and Jason Collins, who was hoping someone else would be the first to step up, deserves credit for raising his hand.