The St. Louis Rams made history on Saturday when they selected Michael Sam in this year’s NFL draft.
The move makes Sam the NFL’s first openly-gay football player. But the NFL may not be the only entity impacted by the decision.
The Rams’ decision to draft Michael Sam could actually have huge legal implications for gay couples and employees across the state of Missouri.
The Rams drafting Sam has raised some deeper issues about openly gay athletes in sports and in the workplace in general. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) posted on Twitter: “Michael Sam could still be fired for just being gay according to MO law. Let’s fix that in Jeffcity.”
The board president of the LGBT Community Center of Metropolitan St. Louis, Dara Strickland, is also a family law attorney. She says an individual can be refused employment because of their sexual orientation under current state law.
“You can apply for a job in Missouri at least, and there’s no protection for being asked, ‘By the way, are you gay?’ and being explicitly told, ‘You know, we don’t hire gay people.’ You can be fired for being gay, lesbian or transgender,” she said.
The Missouri Nondiscrimination Act or MONA extends the existing Missouri Human Rights Statute to include orientation and gender identity as protected categories, thus protecting members of the LGBT community from discrimination in the workplace.
The bill, HB 1930, went before the house in March for a public hearing, but has yet to be passed. Strickland believes the bill will be discussed more now that Sam could be playing for the Rams.
Sam’s appointment to the team will depend on his performance during training camp, which starts on July 25.
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