New York, NY, February 13, 2014…The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today applauded Michael Sam, a defensive lineman from the University of Missouri and likely top NFL draft pick, who is the first NCAA Division I college football player to come out as a gay man.
ADL encouraged NFL teams to judge all players by their athletic proficiency and affirm that sexual orientation is irrelevant to ability to play and to contribute to the success of a team.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
We applaud Michael Sam’s courage to come out in advance of the NFL draft and commend the NFL’s strong statement welcoming and supporting his decision. The teams that have affirmed that an individual’s sexual orientation is irrelevant to his ability to do his job are to be commended, and we encourage the teams that have expressed reservations about the NFL’s readiness for a gay athlete to reconsider and follow suit.
Conversations about whether or not Michael Sam’s decision will affect his draft prospects highlight the need for Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. That legislation would expand existing federal employment discrimination coverage to include protection for those denied equal employment opportunities based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Employment decisions should be made based on merit, performance, and abilities and never on the basis of an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.