By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com January 27 2014 7:00 AM ET
After a joint fundraiser for the Democratic Party last year, it was already clear that Michelle Obama had hit it off with Jason Collins. Now Collins will be among the first lady's special guests during the State of the Union address this week.
The White House this morning announced Collins will be among those seated in the box with the first lady and Dr. Jill Biden — a spot often used to honor Americans whose example the president wants to highlight. A news release touted Collins as the first man to come out in major pro team sport and recalled President Obama saying he "couldn't be prouder" of Collins.
For her part, Michelle Obama tweeted congratulations when Collins' news first broke. ("We've got your back!" she wrote.) And the first lady unloaded praise for Collins when both appeared at the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Leadership gala in New York's Upper East Side held in May.
“Jason, we are so proud of you," she said during the event. "We are proud of your talent, your character, your courage, and we are so proud. He has just made the difference in the lives of so many of our young people. So let’s give one more round of applause to our friend, Jason Collins. We love you so much, Jason.”
Collins was equally as complimentary, according to an ABC News report. He said the first lady is “a steadfast champion for LGBT families” and that she and President Obama send the message that “the most important thing that defines a family is love."