Michael Sam (Reuters/Brian Spurlock)

Missourians using Michael Sam draft to push for LGBTQ labor protections

Sam could still be fired for being gay in the state of Missouri, but activists are hoping to change that


Katie McDonough
May 12, 2014 9:51PM (UTC)

Michael Sam made history this weekend after becoming the first openly gay active player in the NFL, and he may help to push his soon-to-be home state of Missouri to make some pretty historic changes to its labor laws, too.

As Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill noted after news broke about the St. Louis Ram's draft pick, Sam could be fired in the state simply for being gay. Missouri, like so many other states, has no laws in place to address anti-LGBTQ discrimination in hiring and firing practices.

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But with the high-profile football player making St. Louis his new home, activists in the state may use it as an opportunity to apply pressure on lawmakers to pass a measure currently stalled in the state legislature. "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," board president of the LGBT Community Center of Metropolitan St. Louis Dara Strickland told USA Today.

A law that just went before the House in March -- the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act -- would add sexual orientation and gender identity to Missouri's existing Human Rights Statute. It has yet to pass, but activists like Strickland are hopeful that Sam's presence in the state may build popular support for the measure.

It is currently legal in 29 states to fire someone for being LGBTQ.


Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Enda Gay Rights Homophobia Lgbtq Rights Michael Sam Nfl Transgender Rights

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