Obama welcomes announcement from Jason Collins
April 29th, 2013
11:54 AM ET
1 year ago

Obama welcomes announcement from Jason Collins

(CNN) - NBA center Jason Collins' Monday essay in "Sports Illustrated" revealing he's gay was met with praise from President Barack Obama and the first lady.

The president called Collins "to express his support and said he was impressed by his courage," a White House official told CNN.

First lady Michelle Obama also showed her support for Collins on Twitter.

Asked earlier in the day if the White House had a comment, Press Secretary Jay Carney highlighted Collins' decision as "progress."

"I can certainly tell you that here at the White House we view that as another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution that has been taking place in this country and commend him for his courage and support him in his, in this effort and hope that his fans and his team support him going forward," Carney said during the daily press briefing.

Collins also received praise from his classmate at Stanford, Chelsea Clinton.

Her father, former President Bill Clinton, echoed the sentiment in a statement of his own, distributed soon after the article went online.

"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 LGBT community," Clinton wrote. "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. I hope that everyone, particularly Jason's colleagues in the NBA, the media and his many fans extend to him their support and the respect he has earned," he continued.

Collins, who played for the Boston Celtics this season before being traded to the Washington Wizards, wrote in his essay that U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, helped prompt his decision to come out as gay. Kennedy and Collins were roommates at Stanford.

Collins recounts hearing about Kennedy – who is not gay - marching in Boston's Gay Pride Parade.

"I'm seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy," he wrote. "I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn't even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I'd been questioned, I would have concocted half truths."

Kennedy wrote in a statement Monday, ""For as long as I've known Jason Collins he has been defined by three things: his passion for the sport he loves, his unwavering integrity, and the biggest heart you will ever find. Without question or hesitation, he gives everything he's got to those of us lucky enough to be in his life. I'm proud to stand with him today and proud to call him a friend."

CNN's Mark Preston, Jake Tapper, Brianna Keilar and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Bill Clinton • Chelsea Clinton
soundoff (205 Responses)
  1. SixDegrees

    I don't see why this is a surprise. NPR reported that the announcement was carefully orchestrated, with both Clinton and the White House in the loop with statements ready.

    April 29, 2013 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  2. firewalker25b

    Obama phoned him for a game of ONE on ONE and if he could sleep over.

    Obama the FIRST Down-Low President

    April 29, 2013 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  3. steve

    well isn't that nice!
    had the time from his busy schedule to make a phone call over absolutely nothing!

    April 29, 2013 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  4. liberal disease

    Ask Obama's pastor Rev Wright, what he thinks of gays or jews for that matter! What a phony Obama is, such a confused and shallow person

    April 29, 2013 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  5. blakenaustin

    What complete and utter nonsense. This president has no sense at all of what is important. And no clue as to how to deal with the nation's problems.

    April 29, 2013 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  6. ROCKWOOD

    I've often prayed that if everyone who was gay, both men and women, would just stand up, put their taxes in escrow accounts and refuse to pay them until all this prejudice is gone that people would realize that millions of people could not simply be making a choice to be gay.

    Trying to battle those who thump the Bible become an exhausting task. Jesus said to love everyone and it seems to me that a lot more hate is generated than love.

    If the average person knew all the contributions gay men and women have made to the world, they would be beside themselves.

    About the only things I believe in the Bible are the Ten Commandments.....but even those are broken by the most 'righteous' of men.

    Try to find some good to do in this world instead of persecuting others......

    April 29, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  7. Meki60

    kinda funny that potus would be interested is this

    April 29, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  8. firewalker25b

    I betcha the kids that wear his shoes and Tee's are felling mighty low today...what a role model.....

    April 29, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  9. Chuck

    I dont get why this is news?

    April 29, 2013 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  10. McBob79

    That's fantastic. Can he start working on the economy and protecting the country from the next bombers?

    April 29, 2013 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  11. C

    Can't the Obama's find something better to do than fixate on gay NBA players? Take another vacation or something......

    April 29, 2013 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  12. Visara

    This is news? What a joke. Isn't there anything important going on in the world right now? This makes front page news? Who cares about some millionaire basketball player and who he 'does it' with???

    April 29, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  13. firewalker25b

    I wonder if the President called the family of those who lost their lives in BENGHAZI.

    April 29, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    why is this breaking news?? seriously
    WHO CARES !!!

    April 29, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  15. J_lebowski

    CNN seems interested in what Clinton's think about gay marriage but not what Clinton thinks about Benghazi???

    April 29, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  16. Name

    Think there are folks out there that are doing heroic actions and saving lives and such? A rich professional sports player who gets paid for putting a ball thru a hoop?

    April 29, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  17. matrosscbc

    I just don't see this as being newsworthy. I don't care if a player is gay....what did he score?
    And BTW...it is absolutely a choice...breathing is a choice....I mean gimmie a break!

    April 29, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  18. TexasR

    Washed up player needing publicity in free agency? Gratuitous phone call from Pres. Gratuitous, who has nothing better to do? Good for Jason, I guess, but...yawn.

    April 29, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  19. mrkhrrs

    Good thing Obama got that unemployment thing solved so that he has time for stuff like this.

    April 29, 2013 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  20. asdhj

    "Here at the White House we view that as another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution that has been taking place"

    Yah about a million years of evolution needs to take place in that Whitehouse.....

    April 29, 2013 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  21. Bill D

    This president is the worst leader our country has ever seen. Makes Jimmy Carter look intelligent.

    April 29, 2013 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  22. Alexander Bowen

    This President is a digrace

    April 29, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  23. Heebeejeebee

    this is breaking news? no agenda here folks. so sick of hearing about this. you're gay. so what? it doesn't make you special and I don't care.

    April 29, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  24. mrkhrrs

    Good thing he got that unemployment thing solved so that he has time for stuff like this.

    April 29, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  25. Adarus

    That's great president Obama. Just don't claim your Christian (to garner votes) while publicly endorsing sin, as it is written.

    April 29, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
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