President Obama said he's "proud" of Jason Collins, the NBA player who disclosed that he's gay this week, and said he called him to tell him so.
"I had a chance to talk to him yesterday," Mr. Obama said. "He seems like a terrific young man. I told him I couldn't be prouder of him."
Mr. Obama was walking out of his news conference at the White House Tuesday morning when a reporter asked if he had any comment on the 34-year-old Mr. Collins, who ended his season with the Washington Wizards. The president thought it an important enough topic to return to the podium to discuss.
"One of the extraordinary measures of progress that we've seen in this country has been the recognition that the LGBT community deserves full equality, not just partial equality," the president said. "Not just tolerance, but a recognition that they're fully a part of the American family."
He added, "Given the importance of sports in our society, for an individual who's excelled at the highest levels in one of the major sports to go ahead and say 'This is who I am, I'm proud of it… I'm still seven foot tall and can bang with [Shaquille O'Neal]. … For a lot of young people out there who are gay or lesbian, who are struggling with these issues, to see a role model like that who's unafraid, I think it's a great thing."
The president said Americans should be proud that "this is just one more step in this ongoing recognition that we treat everybody fairly. And everybody's part of a family, and we judge people on the basis of their character and their performance, and not their sexual orientation."
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