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. blakenaustin

    What a moral lightweight we have as president. Shameful.

    April 29, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  2. organically

    The "stop blaming Bush" thing makes conservatives look so idiotic. Yes, we are still impacted by the polices of Bush... and James Madison, and Lincoln, and Roosevelt, and every past president. Bush AND Obama polices will impact the USA for decades to come and long after you and I are gone.

    April 29, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  3. Just another bible thumper

    I was always told that if something is good, it will sell itself, so why is all this gay stuff being pushed on America public so much. I've always Ben of the mind that if someone is trying extremely hard to sell you something, you better think twice about it. Just saying.

    April 29, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  4. alienmom

    really poor choice of words from "MO" maybe her hubby told her what to say.This is the problem with these "coming out " stories.We don't care,live your life,stop looking for a pat on the back and thinking you are so darn special.Politicians should keep out of it too.O probably planning a big party for him .Cheesh get over yourselves LGBT .I don't care .

    April 29, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  5. Chris

    This tells us far more about the Dems than it does about Collins.

    April 29, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  6. TravelSheryl

    Some of the comments here are so disgusting, especially the one that being gay is a choice. I guess you also think having cancer is a choice.

    April 29, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  7. alienmom

    I think my dog is gay,does anyone care?Gays have been around since the beginning of time. They get a lot more support than many other minority groups. Ifyou watch tv or movies ,the writers would have you believe that community is taking over the world.They are not.Come out ,don't come out.Do what works for YOU,just stop looking for special rights .

    April 29, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  8. Rachel

    It makes me sick when I read comments from others, that this coming out trash is none of our business!

    WTH do you think it IS when a person like this man comes out in full force, with a huge article?

    Guess what, people? By doing so, it MAKES IT OUR BUSINESS!

    What part of this do you not understand? These gays want us to know who they prefer to sleep with. And since they do, with a vengeance I might add, it makes it the business of the world. And this includes massive criticisms by those of us who find this CHOICE sickening.

    April 29, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  9. alienmom

    what a dumb pic to accompany this story.DOes our president have nothing better to do that make this call? Let's find out who is threatening whistle blowers of benghazi. Surely there is something the POTUS can do that would be productive today!

    April 29, 2013 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  10. Pete

    I'm making an announcement: I like strawberry ice-cream.

    Seriously, should this be considered "news" anymore? We're not living in the 18th century.

    April 29, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  11. Clarke

    Live and let live, I say.

    April 29, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  12. sassysticks53

    @SuperD – Wrong. Collins stands to gain by coming out. When are you bigots gonna get it in your thick, narrow-minded skulls – the nation is changing. You're either gonna accept it or be left behind to go crawl under a rock. I applaud Mr. Collins for his courage. What difference does it make whether he came out during the season or after? No difference at all.

    April 29, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  13. me

    This unknown ball player must of realized the financial possibilities of claiming to be the first gay player.

    April 29, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  14. Pete

    Now are all republicans going to balk not attending the rest of the playoffs because some basketball player came out of the closet being gay,big deal!!Let these people exist with us as people who also bleed red and cry along with us in times of uncertainty..People on these sites have to put their racism away with their archaic ideas of what they want from others because they know they can't get it from themselves...Just let bygones be bygones and let's work together to make a better America no matter what it takes and it'll take all of us as Americans to make it so!!

    April 29, 2013 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  15. Pete

    @Pete,add a big batch of bigotry ,hypocracy to that mix as well !!

    April 29, 2013 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  16. elbob248

    How about calling someone who was injured by an illegal alien running from the Border Patrol???

    April 29, 2013 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  17. Rick H

    hmmm....I thought I saw a headline that said, "Obama Phone to Player" and I thought, "IT FIGURES.....someone else getting an OBAMA PHONE!!!"

    April 29, 2013 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  18. Byron

    Why is it someone that plays a game for a living and is gay receives a phone call from the President but so many that have served their country, gone off to war, and done so much for this land does not receive a call? Perhaps I am a little biased, but I do not see what is so special about a gay basketball player.

    April 29, 2013 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  19. regularguy22

    I guess that this is what you do when you are a lame duck

    April 29, 2013 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  20. Lori

    I can't believe that Americans' still think that being gay is a choice!! God created all of us. God is perfect and so am I. You have no right to judge, that is our job to do when our time comes.

    April 29, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  21. Megamimi

    Can call Jason, but can't call Congress....

    April 29, 2013 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  22. Anthony

    The only good thing about seeing the ignorant bigoted posts is the fact that they can't get anyone who shares that bigoted position into President, hahah idiots. Go Obama!

    April 29, 2013 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  23. Anthony

    Ohh...and its a big deal because all you bigoted close minded people have thus far shamed NBA players into not being open about who they are. That changed today. Go climb back in your hole.

    April 29, 2013 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  24. Jim N.

    In the town in which I live, we had a soldier return in a coffin from Afghanistan; interesting that the president didn't have time to call is family...just saying

    April 29, 2013 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  25. Rick H

    SCRW the economy....I have an idea....LET ME call Jason Collins and congratulate him on being gay! Obama's remarks post Collin's coming out party....

    April 29, 2013 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
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