Obama on Jason Collins: Couldn't Be Prouder

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com April 30 2013 2:05 PM ET

A day after calling NBA player Jason Collins to congratulate him on coming out on the cover of Sports Illustrated, President Barack Obama said he "couldn't be prouder" of Collins at a press briefing Tuesday morning.

As he was leaving the press briefing, a reporter asked him to remark on his conversation with Collins.

"He seems like a terrific young man," Obama said. "I told him I couldn't be prouder ... 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. Not just tolerance, but a recognition that they're fully a part of the American family. 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 out and say, 'This is who I am, I'm proud of it, I'm still a great competitor, I'm still seven foot tall and can bang with Shaq, and deliver a hard foul.' ... For, I think, a lot of young people out there who are gay or lesbian, who are struggling with these issues, to see a role model out there who's unafraid ... I think this is a great thing. I think Americans should be proud that this is just one more step in the ongoing recognition that we treat everybody fairly. Everybody's part of a family. We judge people on the basis of their character and their performance, not on their sexuality. I'm very proud of him."

Michelle Obama tweeted at Collins Monday.

"So proud of you, Jason Collins!" the first lady wrote. "This is a huge step forward for our country. We've got your back!"