By Jonathan Easley - 04/30/13 03:50 PM EDT
President Obama on Tuesday said he “couldn’t be prouder" of Jason Collins, the NBA star who became the first openly gay athlete on a major men's U.S. sports team.
“I had a chance to talk to him yesterday. He seems like a terrific young man, and I couldn’t be prouder of him,” Obama said at a Tuesday press conference at the White House.
Obama called Collins personally on Monday to express his support.
“The LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community deserves full equality, not just partial equality,” Obama said on Tuesday. “Not just tolerance, but a recognition that they’re fully a part of the American community.”
Collins, 34, is a veteran center who played for the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards during the 2012-13 season. In a self-penned story released this week for Sports Illustrated, Collins said he was gay and cited Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.), his former college roommate, as an inspiration in helping him make the decision to come out.
“We judge people based on their character and performance, not their sexual orientation,” Obama said. “For young people who are struggling, to see a role model like that who is unafraid, it's a great thing."
On Monday, first lady Michelle Obama showed her support for Collins over Twitter.
So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We’ve got your back! -mo— FLOTUS (@FLOTUS) April 29, 2013