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NBA's Jason Collins comes out: What does that mean for gay rights? (+video)

Jason Collins became the first active player in America's four major professional team sports to come out as gay. Given sports' elevated place in society, Collins might have just made a significant step for gay rights.

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National Basketball Association center Jason Collins on Monday became the first male professional athlete in a major US team sport to reveal that he is gay.

In a lengthy post co-written with Sports Illustrated reporter Frank Lidz, Mr. Collins writes that after years of hiding his sexuality, March’s Supreme Court oral hearings pushed him to come out of the closet.

“Less than three miles from my apartment, nine jurists argued about my happiness and my future. Here was my chance to be heard, and I couldn’t say a thing,” Collins wrote.

Collins, who played for the Washington Wizards this year, waited until the season was over so as to not be a distraction to the team. Then he contacted Sports Illustrated through his agents to make the disclosure, according to an accompanying article.

“I’m glad I’m coming out in 2013 rather than 2003. The climate has shifted; public opinion as shifted. And yet we still have so much farther to go,” Collins concluded.

He is now a free agent but has said he wants to keep playing.

Will Collins’s move affect US public policy? To a certain extent, he is taking advantage of an existing trend toward more tolerance of gay rights in US public opinion. Earlier this month, an NBC/Wall Street Journal survey found 53 percent of respondents approving of gay marriage, up two percentage points from December.

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