ST. LOUIS - 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. There's even debate about whether it was appropriate to show Sam kissing his boyfriend on television during the draft. It also brought to light the protection of the LGBT community in workplaces throughout the state of Missouri. 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 would extend the existing Missouri Human Rights Statute to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories. It would protect the LGBT community from discrimination in the work place. The bill, HB 1930, went before the house for public hearing on March 13th. It has yet to pass. Strickland believes the bill will be discussed more place now that Sam could be playing for the Rams - pending his performance during training camp.
Training camp is set to begin for the Rams on July 25.