President Obama expressed his support for Jason Collins after the NBA player publicly came out yesterday. After the article of Collins discussing his orientation in a first-person essay for Sports Illustrated hit the internet, President Obama personally called to congratulate him saying he was impressed by his courage and “couldn’t be prouder.”
“One of the extraordinary measures of progress we’ve seen in this country is the recognition that the LGBT community deserves full equality, not just partial equality, not just tolerance but a recognition that they’re fully part of the American family,” Obama said in a press conference this morning.
“I think for a lot of young people out there who are gay or lesbian and struggling with these issues to see a role model like that who is unafraid is a great thing.”
The First Lady also expressed her support for Collins.
“So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country,” tweeted First Lady Michelle Obama. “We’ve got your back!”
Other politicians and LGBT advocates expressed their support as well.
Former President Bill Clinton expressed his support for the Washington Wizards player who attended Stanford with his daughter Chelsea.
“I have known Jason Collins since he was Chelsea’s classmate and friend at Stanford. Jason’s announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community,” the former President said in a statement.
“It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities. For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive,” he continued.
Chelsea Clinton tweeted to Collins with “Very proud of my friend Jason Collins for having the strength & courage to be the first openly gay player in the NBA.”
Democratic Representative Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts also claimed his support of Collins, who was also his college roommate at Stanford.
“I’ve always been proud to call [Collins] a friend, and I’m even prouder to stand with him today,” Kennedy tweeted.
“¨White House spokesperson Jay Carney viewed his coming out as “another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution that has been taking place in this country.”
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a press release that Collins has “forever changed the face of sports” and “No longer will prejudice and fear force gay athletes to remain silent about a fundamental part of their lives.”