If ever there was a perfect example of how employment discrimination against gay people operates on a day-to-day basis -- and why Congress needs to outlaw such discrimination -- the National Football League just provided it.
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Following SEC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam's announcement that he is gay, the league issued an official statement saying: "We admire Michael Sam's honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014."
That's all well and good. However, in a Sports Illustrated story about Sam, other league officials hiding behind anonymity declared that NFL teams will likely punish Sam for his sexual orientation.
An NFL player personnel assistant said: "I don't think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet. In the coming decade or two, it's going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it's still a man's-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It'd chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room."
An NFL scout said: "I just know with this going on this is going to drop him down (in the draft)," He added: "There's no question about it. It's human nature. Do you want to be the team to quote-unquote "break that barrier?'"
David Sirota is a full-time political journalist, best-selling author and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist living in Denver, Colorado. He blogs for Working Assets and the Denver Post's PoliticsWest website. He is a Senior Editor at In These Times magazine, which in 2006 received the Utne Independent Press Award for political coverage. His 2006 book, Hostile Takeover, was a New York Times bestseller, and is now out in paperback. He has been a guest on, among others, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and NPR. His writing, which draws on his (more...)