The St. Louis Rams worked a very successful 2014 NFL Draft over the weekend in the hopes of becoming even more competitive in the ultra-competitive NFC West.
But one of their picks is standing out — in historic ways.
St. Louis’ second-to-last draft pick was Michael Sam, a defensive end from Missouri. The Rams’ selection made Sam the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL.
But Sam’s new job in the NFL does not mean he will not be protected by the state of Missouri when it comes to his role in the workplace.
“You can be fired for being gay, lesbian or transgender,” said Dara Strickland, the board president of the LGBT Community Center of Metropolitan St. Louis. “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.’”
It certainly raises some questions about the future of gays in the workplace in the state of Missouri.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) received this tweet after Sam was selected by the Rams:
Michael Sam could still be fired for just being gay according to current Missouri law. Let’s fix that Jefferson City. @clairecmc
— Casey Berner (@CaseyBerner) May 11, 2014
McCaskill immediately replied “yes!”
Missouri seems like it has a ways to go before gays are treated as equals in the state.
It is currently working on Senate Bill 916, which “would give businesses the right to refuse service to anyone if it violates their sincerely held religious beliefs,” according to ABCNews.com.
Needless to say, politics and sports rarely mix, but they might intertwine a little more in the next few months with St. Louis deciding to select Michael Sam.
He is already popular with fans, with his jersey becoming the No. 2 most sold rookie jersey as of Monday morning. It’s selling at an “unprecedented” rate and trails only Johnny Manziel in sales.
Sam’s newfound popularity means a lot of attention will be on him for the next few months, which could in turn affect how the state of Missouri handles gay issues.
On the field, Sam is a tremendous player with a great work ethic, and the Ram’s defensive line, while already great, could get even stronger if Sam can prove himself in training camp.
We will just have to wait and see how his presence affects the game, both on the field and off of it.