Obama welcomes announcement from Jason Collins
April 29th, 2013
11:54 AM ET
10 years 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. Anonymous

    I'm not saying what is right or what is wrong in terms of having gay NBA players etc., in fact I don't really care. But really – calling this "huge step forward for our country"? Isn't it a bit too much? Is this what defines our country – who is gay and who is straight? It is just a guy coming out of the closet. Happens every day... How is this "huge step forward for our country"? So, until now our country was moving sluggishly and suddenly this event represents huge step? Not the man on the moon, not the invention of the computers, not the elimination of "Don't ask-don't tell" in the Army, not even the first African-american president... no, NBA player coming out is bigger than everithyng!
    This is becoming ridiculous... And I feel insulted.

    April 29, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  2. Dave Friesen

    Who the heck is Jason Collins anyway? I understand that he averages only two points per game. Now if it was Dennis Rodman or Shaq coming out – that would be news. This is just noise!

    April 29, 2013 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  3. DaveinIL

    "Never pass up any good press opportunity", Barack Obama

    April 29, 2013 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  4. Larry L


    Being gay is a choice. No one is forcing them to sin.
    I remember as a child in the 50s hearing my ignorant, racist, Christian relatives explaining why whites associating with African Americans was "against God's plan – and a sin". Being gay is a genetic trait – I hope ignorance and bigotry are not.

    April 29, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  5. Qvilleman

    I'm sick to my stomach. All the issues needing attention and the Commander and Chief has to call a gay sports player and congratulate him on his gayness??

    April 29, 2013 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
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