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April 30th, 2013
11:27 AM ET

Collins fmr. high school coach: 'We were very proud of him' for coming out

On Monday, NBA center Jason Collins revealed he is gay in a "Sports Illustrated" essay, making him the first openly gay player still active in a major pro sports team in the U.S. His public revelation garnered support from players, coaches and fans.

President Obama also took note, calling Collins "to express his support and said he was impressed by his courage," a White House official told CNN. First lady Michelle Obama also showed her support for Collins on Twitter.

This morning on "Starting Point," Collins' fmr. high school basketball coach Greg Hilliard joins “Starting Point” to discuss the announcement.

Hilliard, who still coaches at the Harvard-Westlake school in Los Angeles, says he reached out to his former student after the essay was released to “let him know we were very proud of him.”

“The whole community out here is supportive of him taking that first step and wanted to let him know we will be with him in the rest of the steps,” he adds.

On whether or not he was surprised by the reaction and support, Hilliard says “I think the support is great… now that we've heard the news are just eager to be there for him and let him know that we admire his courage and he is exactly who we knew he was, and the perfect guy for this role.”

Hilliard says Collins will definitely face challenges, both one-on-one and through the media.

“I think he's the guy who is strong enough to deal with this,” Hilliard says.

Filed under: Basketball • Gay rights
March 21st, 2013
11:31 AM ET

Adopted boy writes letter to Chief Justice Roberts urging support of same sex marriage

Daniel Leffew is a very passionate 12-year-old who wrote a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts urging him to support same sex marriage. Daniel and his father Bryan are on "Starting Point" to talk to John Berman and Christine Romans about how deeply this issue effects their family.

Daniel and his 8-year-old sister Salina were adopted by their two gay dads when Daniel was 5-years-old. When he heard that Chief Justice John Roberts also had two adopted children, he decided to write the letter. Daniel believes that everyone has a different opinion on family, and both he and Justice Roberts “know that no matter if you are blood related, family is people who love and take care of you.”

Daniel suffers from a genetic disorder called Goldenhar syndrome, which affects the whole left side of his body. When he was in foster care he was frequently told he was un-adoptable because of his condition.

Daniel writes this letter a week before the Supreme Court is set to hear the case determining the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and the constitutionality of Proposition 8 in California. Daniel's family lives in California, and while his dads' marriage was grandfathered and not "annulled when they upheld prop 8” he still hopes that Chief Justice Roberts “makes the right decision and sees our family like any other.”

Filed under: Adoption • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Medical Condition • SCOTUS
February 6th, 2013
10:33 AM ET

'When there is equality, there is progress' – Fmr. den mother Jennifer Tyrrell emotional, nervous for Boy Scouts gay vote

The Boy Scouts of America was expected to consider a very major change in their policy towards gays. After "Starting Point" went off the air, the Scouts announced they would put off the decision to lift their national ban on gay scouts and gay leaders until May. If it does happen, local troops would then be able to decide on their own whether or not they'd accept gays.

Jennifer Tyrrell, former Cub Scout den leader in Ohio, says the organization dismissed her for being a lesbian. On Monday she led a group to the Boy Scout's headquarters near Dallas. They dropped off a petition to end the ban on gays which they say had 1.4 million signatures on it.

This morning, Tyrrell talks with Soledad on "Starting Point" about the fight for equality in the Boy Scouts.

Tyrrell explains how it was her 7-year-old son who got her involved with the organization.

"I didn't want to even join the Boy Scouts and he wanted to, he was so excited, it was so hard to tell him no, he doesn't understand that people are discriminatory," she says. "I never had a problem until they asked me to be treasurer. I found a lot of mistakes, I started asking a lot of questions and then that day that I was supposed to have a meeting to say where is this money, is the day that I received the phone call saying, oh by the way, you're gay, you can't be here anymore."

Tyrrell says her son has had to bear the brunt of the situation.

"He misses his friends. He still sees his friends at school but scouting - it's special. We loved it. And I was the last person that expected to love it, to be completely honest. But I saw a change in him. I saw him come out of his shell. I saw - he just became a better person and so did I. If this ban is lifted, it will be a great first step but it's going to still lead to kids being rejected, families are still going to be turned away, and I've been contacted by so many families, gay scouts that are terrified that somebody's going to find out," she says.

Filed under: Boy Scouts • Gay rights
February 5th, 2013
09:41 AM ET

So. Baptist Convention's Land: Gays in Boy Scouts would be 'a catastrophe,' will lead to 'boys and men in relationships that will be tragic'

This morning on "Starting Point," Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land argues that allowing gays in the Boy Scouts would violate the group's core values.

"We believe that if they make this decision, it's going to be a catastrophe for the Boy Scouts," Land says. "Yes, we live in a democracy and people can make this choice, but if they do it's going to be a catastrophe because Baptist scouts, and Catholic scouts, and Mormon scouts and Methodist scouts...many of them are going to vote with their feet and leave the Scouts."

"They're cutting out the heart and soul of scouting in the rest of the country," Land adds.

He adds one thing that people aren't discussing in the issue of letting gays in the Boy Scouts comes down to physical attraction.

"Let me say one other thing that nobody wants to talk about. That is that homosexuals by definition are attracted to people of the same sex. Now, I'm not accusing homosexuals of being pedophiles, but I'm accusing homosexuals of being what they said they are: Attracted to males."

"How many people would allow their teenage girls to go on camp outs with heterosexual males? They wouldn't," Land says. "This verges on being beyond the realm of the rational, and it's going to lead to human's going to be sadly boys and men that are going to end up in relationships that are going to be tragic."

Tell us what you think: Do you agree or disagree with Land's opinion of allowing gays in the Boy Scouts?


Filed under: Boy Scouts • Gay rights
July 18th, 2012
02:56 PM ET

Advocate Zach Wahls to Boy Scouts: Change is coming

(CNN) – The Boy Scouts of America announced Tuesday it has affirmed its policy of "not granting membership to open or avowed homosexuals."

The organization's leaders reached that decision after a nearly two-year evaluation and will take no further action on a resolution that has sought a change in policy, it said in a news release. It had said last month that it would consider a resolution asking that local units be allowed to determine their own standards.

BSA's chief scout executive and national president had convoked a committee of volunteers and professional leaders to evaluate the policy.

This morning on "Starting Point," advocate and author of "My Two Moms" Zach Wahls tells Soledad that though the group has agreed to let the policy stand, he thinks change will be coming soon.


Filed under: Boy Scouts • Gay rights
May 17th, 2012
08:37 AM ET

VA delegate Robert Marshall on voting against gay prosecutor for judicial nomination, says 'sodomy is not a civil right'

A key swing state is diving into a hot button political debate After Virginia's Republican-controlled House voted to block the judicial nomination of an openly gay prosecutor this week.

Opponents argued that Tracy Thorne-Begland's past indicates he would try to force an activist agenda from the bench.

The former Navy pilot disclosed his sexuality on TV nearly 20 years ago in an effort to fight the military's ban on homosexuals. He later sued the military for violating his right to free speech with the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

This morning on "Starting Point," one of the lawmakers who led the charge against Thorne-Begland, Republican Virginia Delegate Robert Marshall, explains why he and some of his colleagues voted the way they did.

"Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks never took an oath of office that they broke," Marshall says. "Sodomy is not a civil right. It’s not the same as the Civil Rights movement...In late 2011, [Thorne-Begland] was critical of 'Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,' he criticized our Attorney General simply for explaining what the law of Virginia is with respect to certain protected classes. So he’s gone beyond that. He can be a prosecutor if he wants to, but we don't want advocates as judges."

Watch the extended interview below.

Filed under: Gay rights
May 15th, 2012
01:13 PM ET

Gay Marriage USA's Murray Lipp on petitioning to move the DNC convention out of North Carolina

Gay Marriage USA founder Murray Lipp on why he started a petition to move the DNC convention out of North Carolina.

Filed under: Gay rights • Same sex marriage
May 11th, 2012
10:54 AM ET

California bill would ban 'conversion therapy' – State Sen. Lieu and American Prospect's Gabriel Arana explain

In California now, efforts to ban a form of psychotherapy that claims it can make gay teens straight is now in the state's Senate. Supporters say the treatments don't work and can cause harm. Conservative religious groups say the ban interferes with parents' rights.

State Senator Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) wrote the bill and American Prospect's Gabriel Arana underwent this sort of therapy in 1998 in California. Arana says, it did not change his sexual orientation, and in fact he's now married to his same-sex partner.

Filed under: Gay rights
May 11th, 2012
10:23 AM ET

Charlotte Mayor Foxx responds to calls to move Dem. convention, says Charlotte is a 'great' location

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx on calls for Dem. convention to leave North Carolina after a same sex marriage ban passed.

Filed under: 2012 Race • Gay rights • Politics
May 10th, 2012
01:46 PM ET

GOProud's Barron says President Obama's same sex marriage endorsement 'overtly political'

GOProud co-founder Chris Barron says President Obama's same sex marriage endorsement is a political move.

Filed under: Gay rights • Same sex marriage
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