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TODAY   |  April 30, 2013

Martina Navratilova: Jason Collins will save lives

Tennis icon Martina Navratilova, who came out decades ago, and New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica discuss NBA player Jason Collins’ declaration in Sports Illustrated that he is gay.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> it on the front page . we don't want being gay to be an issue. we don't have equal rights . jason coming out this way is going to push that forward a little bit. also save lives. no kout in my mind some kid is not going to commit suicide because jason is out.

>> do you expect other professional athletes in the four major sports to follow suit? is that important?

>> i'm sure some will come out. they will play better ball. it takes so much energy to hide who you are. jason hid it from his twin brother . that's how far in the closet he was. you cannot be who you are unless you are out there. unless you come out and embrace yourself. as he said, if a straight guy is marching, he can.

>> when you came out it was very different. you say you didn't get a call from ronald reagan , madison avenue shunned you and mike lupica told me about wimbledon where you were getting a hard time from fans. this is a very different time.

>> it's fantastic. the support jason is getting and any gay athlete is getting. like i said, we don't want it to be a big deal . it is because we don't have equal rights but the media has done a 180. fans have done a 180. now you're getting support when you come out. the monkey's off your back. it's like, nobody wants to go back in the closet once they came out. i'm sure there will be other athletes who come out. with each one it will be less of a big deal . that's what we're all about. we don't want it to be a big deal , but it is.

>> mike, give me two headlines. what's the headline on the sports pages, on the front page about the story.

>> the headline on the sports page is, it's a good thing. it will be interesting to see when it's the second best quarterback in the national football league , some huge star. also interesting to see if jason collins who doesn't have a job for next season is inhibited from getting a job because of the announcement. in the greater context i hope the league of old men and women on the supreme court are paying attention to this. same-sex marriage and the constitutionality is going to be heard probably in june. i hope they are looking at the reaction to this in the country. because it's really, really important. this is a human rights issue, not civil rights .

>> charles barkley , never shy with his opinion, was asked about this and said players in professional sports have been playing alongside gay players for a long time. he wonders if the fans won't give them a harder time than their teammates will give them. will that cause other players not to come out?

>> i'm not sure it will be a great big door swinging open wide . there will be six players coming out next week. do you know what i was thinking about when this happened? i have thought it for a long time. women have been doing this in sports for a long time. women have been more accepting about this. it verifies that women are a lot smarter and cooler about this stuff. i'm hoping that that transfers now to guys.

>> that gets a smile out of martina. thank you so much. michael, thank you. good to see you both. thank