Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly gay football player to be drafted, has condemned a so-called “religious liberty” bill in Missouri that he feels is discriminatory towards gay people and their families.
According to CBS Sports, Sam, who never officially played in a game, raised his concerns about the bill in an op-ed piece for the Missouri newspaper, Columbia Tribune.
In March, the state Senate passed the controversial proposed amendment to the state’s constitution following a filibuster by the Democrats, as reported by Sporting News. If passed, the bill would allow for business owners to not serve gay couples who are tying the knot, due to the owners’ religion. However, gay couples being able to retrieve marriage licenses will remain unaffected.
Michael Sam wrote that he was “deeply concerned” for the future of the “Show Me State,” because it is where he learned about what hard work and fairness means and it’s a place he considers his home.
“This so-called ‘religious liberty’ bill is just another way to undermine the dignity of LGBT people and their families,” said Sam, who played on the defensive end for the University of Missouri.
Sam continued, “As an athlete who grew up in a Christian home, two things were always made clear to me: First, treat every person, every team, every competitor with respect. Second, everyone should have an equal shot and start on an equal playing field.”
Further, Michael Sam wrote that this resolution would also allow hospitals to not treat gay patients, as well as day care centers and after-school programs refusing to accept children who have gay parents.
“SJR 39 [the proposed bill] is the opposite of respect, and it’s the opposite of equality. It does not reflect the Missouri I know,” said Sam.
Some business owners have also shared Michael Sam’s concern, according to Sporting News. In traditionally conservative states like Georgia and Indiana, similar legislation had been proposed, but was subsequently withdrawn after public uproar by businesses.
In North Carolina, a measure was passed last week, where transgender people cannot choose which bathroom they choose to use, resulting in public scrutiny, as reported by Vanity Fair.
Along with Michael Sam, the editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have weighed in on this “religious liberty” bill. They feel it should be rejected like Governor Nathan Deal rejected a similar bill last week.
“Lawmakers should let this measure die, as business leaders and human rights advocates across Missouri have urged,” said the board, who reported that MasterCard, Monsanto, and St. Louis’ Regional Chamber have all opposed the measure.
They continued, “Missouri lawmakers should heed the wise words of Georgia’s governor and make Missouri a welcoming place for all.”
Meanwhile, Michael Sam made the news last week when it was reported that the NFL and the Rams agreed to draft Sam in 2013, in order to not appear on the HBO program Hard Knocks. According to CBS Sports, the deal, which was described as a “stomach-churner,” didn’t surprise Sam all that much.
“When we drafted Michael he was the best player on the board,” said Jeff Fisher, coach for the Rams on an ESPN Radiointerview. “Who in their right mind would think that you give up a draft choice to avoid doing something like that?”
Michael Sam revealed that he has been accepted more by the black community than the gay community, as reported by The Advocate.
“People have told me I’m not gay enough, people have told me I’m not black enough. I don’t know what that means,” said Sam, who is featured on the front cover of Attitude Magazine‘s May issue.
Sam continued, “You want to be accepted by other people but you don’t even accept someone just because of the color of their skin? I just don’t understand that at all.”
(Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)