President Barack Obama makes call to Jason Collins after NBA star comes out as gay
US President calls to offer support
Tuesday 30 April 2013
A groundbreaking pronouncement from NBA veteran Jason Collins — “I'm gay” — reverberated through Washington, generating accolades from lawmakers on Twitter and a supportive phone call from President Barack Obama.
Hours after Collins disclosed his sexuality in an online article, Obama reached out by phone, expressing his support and telling Collins he was impressed by his courage, the White House said.
Collins, 34, becomes the first active player in one of four major North American professional sports leagues to come out as gay. He has played for six teams in 12 seasons, including this past season with the Washington Wizards, and is now a free agent.
Collins' declaration in a first-person account posted on Sports Illustrated's website garnered particular attention from Democrats, many of whom have recently announced their support for gay marriage despite opposing it in the past. Obama announced his support last year during his re-election campaign.
Organizing for Action, a grassroots group run by Obama loyalists that grew out of his 2012 re-election campaign, offered its support for Collins as well, writing to Collins on Twitter on Monday that the group's supporters "stand with you today."
And first lady Michelle Obama chimed in on Twitter on Monday afternoon to applaud Collins.
"So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We've got your back!" the tweet read. It was signed "mo" — signifying that the first lady personally wrote the message.
Former President Bill Clinton also voiced encouragement, releasing a statement that asks fans, NBA colleagues and the media to support and respect him. Clinton said he has known Collins since he attended Stanford University with his daughter Chelsea.
Clinton said Collins' announcement is an "important moment" for professional sports and the history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Collins is "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," Clinton said. "For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive."
Chelsea Clinton also tweeted her support for Collins Monday, saying she was proud of her friend for having the strength and courage to be the first openly gay player in the NBA.
Earlier Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Collins' decision was another example of progress and evolution in the U.S. as Americans grow more accepting of gay rights and same-sex marriage. He said he hoped the 34-year-old center's NBA colleagues will also offer support.
"We view that as another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution that has been taking place in this country," Carney said.
Chad Griffin, the president of Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, said Collins has "forever changed the face of sports."
"No longer will prejudice and fear force gay athletes to remain silent about a fundamental part of their lives," Griffin said.
The NBA player also received support from Democratic Congressman Joe Kennedy III, his university roommate. Kennedy tweeted Monday that "I've always been proud to call (Collins) a friend, and I'm even prouder to stand with him today."
Latest in Sport
Liverpool transfer news and rumours: Xabi Alonso to be quizzed before £18m Asier Illarramendi bid; Battle on for Rickie Lambert
Transfer news and rumours LIVE: Juan Cuadrado to Chelsea, Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester City, United want Gareth Bale
Arsenal vs Aston Villa report: Inspirational Mesut Ozil takes chance to regain limelight from Alexis Sanchez
Arsenal 5 Aston Villa 0 player ratings: Mesut Ozil or Santi Cazorla? Who stole the show at the Emirates Stadium?
Arsenal transfer news and rumours: Marco Reus 'wants to work with Arsene Wenger'; Nicolas Otamendi link; Jose Luis Gaya clause met
- 1 Three-year-old boy shoots pregnant mother and father in New Mexico
- 2 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
President Putin is a dangerous psychopath - reason is not going to work with him
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...
£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...
£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...