Jason Collins signs contract with Brooklyn Nets, becomes first openly gay player in NBA

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Jason Collins

Jason Collins became the NBA’s first active openly gay player Sunday, signing a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets, the Associated Press reported.

Collins will join the Nets for their game Sunday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers. The 35-year-old center revealed at the end of last season he is gay, but he was a free agent and had remained unsigned.

With a need for another big man, the Nets turned to the 7-foot Collins, who helped them reach two NBA Finals in the early 2000s.

“The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision,” general manager Billy King said in a statement. “We needed to increase our depth inside, and with his experience and size, we felt he was the right choice for a 10-day contract.”

Collins has played 12 NBA seasons, including his first seven with the Nets, when they were in New Jersey and Jason Kidd was their point guard. Kidd is now the Nets’ coach and Collins has been a teammate of several other current Nets.

“Jason told us that his goal was to earn another contract with an NBA team. Today, I want to commend him on achieving his goal. I know everyone in the NBA family is excited for him and proud that our league fosters an inclusive and respectful environment,” Commissioner Adam Silver said.

The Nets worked out Collins during the All-Star break and met with him again Sunday, with his twin brother, Jarron, hinting that history would be made.

“Hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday. Today should be a pretty cool day!” Jarron Collins wrote on Twitter.

The news on Collins comes as Michael Sam, the SEC defensive player of the year from Missouri who recently revealed he is gay, is taking part in the NFL draft combine. Sam’s on-field workouts in Indianapolis are scheduled for Monday.

Jason Collins played 38 games last season with Boston and Washington and averaged 1.1 points and 1.6 rebounds in limited minutes. For his career, the 7-foot Collins averages 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds.

His announcement last spring was followed by numerous NBA players insisting he would be welcomed in the locker room. Collins has played for five other teams and is well respected inside and outside the league — he attended the State of the Union as a guest of first lady Michelle Obama.

“I just know Jason as a person and as a player. That’s what I’m happy about. He has earned it. He’s a great guy. It’s good for the league. The important thing is to judge him as a person and a basketball player,” Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said.

“I know people who have coached him, and I know how highly thought of he is.”

The Nets had an opening for a big man after trading Reggie Evans along with Jason Terry to Sacramento on Wednesday for guard Marcus Thornton. King said Thursday that Collins would be among the players they would look at, insisting they wouldn’t be concerned about any extra attention the signing of Collins would provide.

“We’re going to bring in a basketball player,” King said. “It’s not about marketing or anything like that.”

The Nets posted a photo on their Twitter account of Kidd watching Collins sign his contract, encouraging followers to retweet it to welcome Collins to Brooklyn.

Collins is tied for third in Nets history with 510 games played, and also ranks in their top 10 in minutes played, and offensive rebounds and total rebounds. A limited offensive player, the Nets hope he still provides a presence defensively and on the boards.

“I know Jason Collins is a competitor. One thing I know about him is he fouls very hard,” Miami’s Dwyane Wade said with a laugh. “He’s one of those tough veterans. I’m sure he’s happy to be back playing in the league. Welcome back.”

—  Steve Ramos

Out NBA player to be seated with Michelle Obama at State of the Union

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Jason Collins

The White House announced some of the guests who will be seated in first lady Michelle Obama’s box during the President’s State of the Union address Tuesday. Out former NBA player Jason Collins will be among the guests.

Other guests include a Boston Marathon survivor and his rescuer, the Moore, Okla., fire chief who directed the rescue after a devastating tornado last year, D.C.’s teacher of the year and a 16-year-old Intel intern.

During the State of the Union address, presidents traditionally tell stories about Americans who have made a difference during the year.

Collins played in the NBA for 12 years, making it to the playoffs nine times. In college, he was selected as an All American, named the NCAA’s “Big Man of the Year” and earned an appearance in the Final Four.

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers described Collins as “the best.”

“He literally is one of the best guys I’ve ever had in the locker room, player or coach,” Collins said.

In April 2013, Collins became the first male player in major American team sports to come out openly as gay.

A statement from the White House described Collins’ coming out as courageous.

The President expressed his gratitude to Collins for his courageous announcement through an article Collins penned himself. The President said he “couldn’t be prouder” of Collins, recognizing this as a point of progress for the LGBT community, and one more step in America’s goal to treat everyone fairly and with respect. Collins is 35 and lives in Los Angeles, California.

—  David Taffet

Stonewall Democrats to host watch party for SOTU, which will include 2 special lesbian guests

Ginger Wallace, left, and Lorelei Kilker

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas will host its second annual watch party at the Brick tonight during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address.

The Washington Blade reports that two lesbians are among those who’ve been invited to sit in first lady Michelle Obama’s gallery during the address. They are Lorelei Kilker, an analytical chemist from Colorado who was involved in a landmark sex discrimination case against her employer; and Air Force Col. Ginger Wallace, who’s training to deploy to Afghanistan and is the first service member to have a same-sex partner participate in a pinning-on promotion ceremony.

Others who’ll be sitting in the first lady’s gallery include San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who has served as grand marshal of the city’s gay Pride parade and who recently signed a pledge in support of same-sex marriage.

The Blade also takes a look at the question of whether Obama will endorse same-sex marriage — or otherwise mention LGBT issues — during his speech.

Stonewall’s watch party begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Brick, 2525 Wycliff, Suite 120.

Read the White House’s bios of Castro, Kilker and Wallace after the jump.

—  John Wright

Pentagon provides update on DADT repeal

Clifford Stanley

Few spousal benefits will be available to gay and lesbian servicemembers after the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is implemented, according to Defense Undersecretary Clifford Stanley and Gen. James Cartwright.

Stanley and Cartwright spoke at a press conference this afternoon on the progress of implementing the repeal of DADT.

In his State of the Union address this week, President Obama said, “Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love.”

Stanley said the Pentagon is still working through the process of drafting new policies needed to implement DADT repeal.

Asked to pinpoint a timetable for implementing the repeal beyond “expeditiously” or “quickly,” neither Stanley nor Cartwright was specific.

However, Cartwright said, “Expeditiously is better than dragging this out,” citing the experience of other countries in allowing gays and lesbians to serve in their armed forces. Training, they agreed, should begin in February.

Stanley and Cartwright addressed chaplains — one of the largest and most vocal groups opposing the repeal of DADT — saying they practice their own faiths and no rules changes would be needed. The two officials did not address chaplains refusing to serve gay and lesbian troops.

—  David Taffet

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas Watch Party tonight

Get your Obama on

The Stonewall Democrats of Dallas are hosting a watch party this evening so all can catch President Obama’s State of the Union. This might be the only time you can gather for the President’s speech and take advantage of drink specials. However, just don’t make a drinking game out of everytime he says “economy.” Could be totally awkward.

DEETS: The Brick, 2525 Wycliff Ave. 7 p.m.

—  Rich Lopez

What’s Brewing: Daniel Hernandez, Fort Worth Episcopal diocese; marriage battles intensify

1. In a victory for LGBT-affirming Episcopalians, a conservative Fort Worth group that left the church over its acceptance of gays has been ordered to surrender the property it tried to steal from the six-county diocese. A state district judge on Friday ordered the group to turn over the property — which includes 55 parishes and missions as well as several schools — within 60 days. The group says it plans to appeal the decision, but hopefully this ruling will mean schools like St. Vincent’s can no longer discriminate against 4-year-olds like Olivia Harrison (above) who happen to have lesbian parents.

2. Daniel Hernandez Jr., the gay intern credited with saving the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, will sit next to first lady Michelle Obama during Tuesday’s State of the Union address. Tuesday also happens to be Hernandez’s 21st birthday.

3. Battles over same-sex marriage are intensifying in Maryland, Wyoming and Iowa.

—  John Wright

If Obama fails to mention us in the SOTU, at least you can drown your sorrows at the Brick

President Barack Obama

Some LGBT advocates are calling on President Barack Obama to come out for marriage equality in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. Others, however, say Obama should talk about anti-gay bullying. Bullying certainly seems more likely, but would it be too much to ask for Obama to address marriage (DOMA), bullying AND workplace discrimination (ENDA)?

In any case, you can take in the SOTU and wash it down with a few $2 Skyy Vodkas at the Brick, where Stonewall Democrats is hosting a watch party. From Facebook:

Come join Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and hear President Obama give the State of the Union address.
Social hour 7pm to 8pm
State of the Union 8pm
The Brick will show the address on their super large screen and just for SDD $2 Skyy Vodka drinks!
Come one and bring a friend or 2 or 10!
For more info please contact:
Travis Gasper at travisgasper@gmail.com or
Omar Narvaez at omar@stonewalldemocratsofdallas.org

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Lance Lundsten, State of the Union, Lady Bunny’s ‘Ballad of Sarah Palin’

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Gay Minnesota teen Lance Lundsten may very well have taken his own life after all. The medical examiner in the case said Wednesday that Lundsten did not die from an enlarged heart as his father claims. Instead, a finding that Lundsten had an enlarged heart was secondary to his unknown cause of his death. Lundsten has been widely reported to have committed suicide in response to anti-gay bullying at school. However, his official cause of death won’t be known until toxicology results are complete, which could take several weeks.

2. LGBT advocates are calling for President Barack Obama to come out in support of marriage equality in Tuesday’s State of the Union address: “We have wanted him to lead on this issue. He has talked about … experiencing some evolution, and we’d like to say, ‘Evolve now!’”

3. Lady Bunny releases “The Ballad of Sarah Palin.” (video above)

—  John Wright

4 good reasons to vote for Democrats

Dire warnings won’t mobilize LGBT voters, but signs of progress made, and progress yet to be made, should provide good reasons to bring the community out to the polls

Since the 1980 election, Democrats’ favorite voter mobilization tool when faced with a bad election year is to issue dire warnings of what might happen if “they” take over. Instead of repeating apocalyptic prophecies, I thought I would point out a few reasons why the

LGBT community here in Dallas should be enthusiastic about our Democratic ticket and go to polls this year with gusto!

It is certainly no secret that many in the gay community are disappointed by the frustratingly slow progress repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) or the Defense of Marriage Act. It is not unreasonable to believe that substantial Democratic majorities in both houses of congress should have resulted in immediate progress.

However, considering the year-long titanic struggle to pass a modest health care reform bill, passing legislation has proven to be enormously difficult.

Shortly after President Obama put repeal of DADT at the top of the nation’s agenda in his State of the Union Address last January, the House passed the Murphy amendment in May. The good news is that the Senate will be passing its own version in the next few months.

Our Democratic Congress is poised to finally eliminate the most insulting anti-gay policy on the books 58 years after it was first instituted. And for that, we can put aside any lingering cynicism and impatience and go to the polls knowing that the LGBT community’s support for the Democratic Party has been well worth the investment.

This year we can have our greatest impact on the future direction of Texas and Dallas County. I’ve identified just a few things the LGBT community has at stake and why it is more important than ever that we get out and vote.

1. We have the opportunity this year to elect and re-elect two capable, openly gay candidates. Electing supporters is great, but nothing beats electing your own.

As your Dallas County district clerk, my exemplary stewardship of the office is well known and a matter of public record. I have saved taxpayers millions in cost-saving initiatives, come under-budget every year since I took office, and initiated innovative new projects to bring Dallas County into the 21st century.

Of the 67 elected judges in Dallas County, not one is openly gay, in spite of the many LGBT members of the bar. This year we have the opportunity to change that by electing Tonya Parker to the 116th Civil District Court. Parker is a young, successful and energetic attorney who is already a rising star.

Parker has the kind of talent that leads to the federal bench, but she cannot get there without the enthusiastic support of this community both financially and on Election Day.

2. By electing Elba Garcia, we have the best chance in 16 years to unseat a county commissioner who has proven time and again that he is no friend to our community.

For those of us who live in North Oak Cliff, Dr. Garcia is a household name. We are proud of her outstanding leadership on the Dallas City Council, and I can think of no other candidate better suited for the Commissioners Court.

Of all the races on our ballot, this is the one where LGBT voters can have the greatest impact.

3. It is critically important for this community to stand up for its allies and friends. Judge Tena Callahan’s courageous ruling in a gay divorce case last October proves that judicial philosophy matters. Her integrity and courage is just the kind of thing we need to keep on the bench. Supporting Judge Callahan not only shows our gratitude, but also gives us the chance to stand with the litigants and their attorneys who rejected the prophets of pusilanimity and asserted their rights under the law regardless of the outcome.

4. The experience of the LGBT community since the beginning of the HIV epidemic in the 1980s has proven to us that government plays a vital role in ensuring the health and safety of citizens. Reps. Allen Vaught, Carol Kent and Robert Miklos are legislators the LGBT community can be proud of.

In District 105 in Irving, we have the opportunity to elect Loretta Haldenwang and replace an incumbent whose ethics are ill-suited for public office.

The Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, under the outstanding leadership of Erin Moore, have an aggressive plan to get-out-the-vote and communicate this message to voters. They need your financial support and your time now.

We Democrats have much to be proud of over the last two years. We have passed legislation that offers a real alternative to Republican politics of anger and ignorance. We have only just begun to set a new course for our future.

We here in Dallas live big and dream even bigger. Dallas never apologizes for success; we never hide it. LGBT voters are an important part of the Democratic Party’s success and we have good reason to be enthusiastic about our ticket.

Gary Fitzsimmons is openly gay and the district clerk for Dallas County. He is also a co-founder of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 10, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

RCD's Mike McKay on the State of the Union: 'It's time to move beyond speeches'

The following statement was just sent over by Rafael McDonnell at Resource Center Dallas on behalf of Executive Director Mike McKay:

“President Obama’s pledge to work with the legislative branch to end the misguided ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy is worthy of praise. It’s important to note, though, that GLBT Americans have heard these words before. As a candidate, President Obama said them on the stump; and just last fall, he said them at the HRC dinner in Washington. Talking is for campaigns; action is for leaders.

“The time is long overdue to move beyond speeches and put the ‘fierce advocacy’ we were promised before the 2008 elections into action. A line has been drawn in the sand: the GLBT community must hold both the President and Congress accountable for getting rid of this archaic, discriminatory policy. Audacious action and leadership are needed. We will help with the roadmap to get us to that goal.

“Regrettably, the President chose not to speak on two other issues of importance to our community: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Defense of Marriage Act. Every day, GLBT Americans here in North Texas and across the country lose their jobs for simply being who they are. Every day, GLBT Americans are denied hundreds of federal benefits bestowed on married couples. The United States of America, where we pledge allegiance to a flag that promises ‘liberty and justice for all,’ needs action and leadership on these issues – sooner rather than later.”

—  John Wright