President Barack Obama says he's spoken with NBA player Jason Collins and commended him on his groundbreaking decision to become the first active male athlete in a major team sport to come out as gay.
Speaking at a White House news conference Tuesday, Obama said he "couldn't be prouder" of Collins for reflecting progress the United States has made in recognizing that gays and lesbians deserve full equality.
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Obama added that members of the gay and lesbian community deserve "not just tolerance, but recognition that they're fully a part of the American family." Obama said he believes that all people should be judged on their character and performance, not their sexual orientation.
The 34-year-old center -- who played for six NBA teams over 12 seasons and is currently a free agent -- revealed his sexuality Monday in a Sports Illustrated cover story. "I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport," Collins said. "But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation."
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