There's been one frustrating delay after another in the House Emerging Issues Committee on deciding the fate of Senate Joint Resolution 39. The bill would ask voters to amend Missouri’s constitution to protect certain individuals and businesses who cite religious beliefs to deny service to same-sex couples.
Both supporters and opponents of SJR39 have flooded Jefferson City with letters, emails, phone calls and in person visits.
Accordingly, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality advocates and their allies have been hard at work fighting the legislation and just last week held a rally in the capitol rotunda at PROMO's Equality Day featuring Michael Sam.
#Boom Media was able to talk to the former Mizzou Tiger, St. Louis Rams draft pick, and the first openly gay football player in NFL history briefly after the event.
You hear from a lot of LGBTQ youth. What would you say to our young people who may be experiencing this sort of effort by the state to discriminate against our community for the first time?
So many LGBT youth, especially in this state, have said, "I came out to my family because of you." So if you're going to attend the University of Missouri and this bill passes, you might think, "Well, maybe I should have stayed in the closet." You start second guessing your decisions about being happy and free. If Michael Sam can do it on that national platform at the University of Missouri and you come out and now they try to pass this bill? It just undermines everything. It hurts. It really does hurt and I feel for these young people.
When did you first hear about what was happening here in Missouri and what made you want to jump in and lend your name to the fight?
Well, I look back to 2014 when I came out and how the whole nation rallied around this state - not only our school, but the state. Don't get me wrong, everyone knew in the media that I was out, that I came out to my team, but nothing was written about it. That's just how we protect our own here. And now... what happened? What happened since 2014 when everybody rallied around this state and this state had good energy and positive focus to it and now it's getting negative attention? So I don't know what's been going on, I don't know what happened between then and now, but we have a chance to fight this and we should fight it. I hope the Representatives kill it in committee.
Do you think the NFL will join businesses here in speaking out against SJR39?
Will the NFL speak out against it? I don't know. Hopefully they will and we only have one NFL team, The Chiefs. But you know what? People will seriously stop performing here if it passes. Many musicians will not perform here anymore. We will lose money and businesses and I think that's why it's slowing down because they see what's happening in North Carolina.
One of the first events we covered as #Boom was the "I Stand with Sam" rally at Mizzou after you came out before the draft with thousands holding hands and wearing the shirts. That had to be a special moment for you when you saw that had happened.
I knew in that moment that... I didn't know what it was when I first came here in January 2009 - that's when I came for my official visit. I'll never forget during those three days I was thinking there's just something about this school that I like, but I couldn't tell what it was. I talked to my Mom and I told her I'm going to de-commit from Arizona State and I'm going to go to the University of Missouri. And she really didn't care. She asked me why and I just said, "I don't know why but it feels right." Then flash forward years later at that moment with the pictures of all the people hanging around in the cold and blocking the Westboro Baptist Church - that's the reason I came. I felt love and felt home here and hopefully we will continue to embrace each other.
You can watch video of the Michael Sam #SJR39 below.