On Monday, NBA player Jason Collins became the first active athlete in a major American sports league to come out as gay. “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay,” Collins wrote in a Sports Illustrated cover story. But, as John Amaechi, a former NBA center, suggested, Collins’s coming out won’t be a “tipping point” for the acceptance of gays in America.
This has been a time of great strides for gay rights. Rhode Island’s Senate voted in favor of same-sex marriage last week, and could soon become the 10th state (along with the District of Columbia) to legalize it. Though the Supreme Court is expected to rule — at least partially — on the issue later this spring, the vast majority of states still prohibit same-sex marriage. In the absence of federal support for gay marriage, gay couples who are married cannot file jointly on their federal tax returns, and don’t receive pension benefits from a spouse.