St. Louis football fans would welcome Michael Sam to the Rams, according to a new study out of Emory University.
But Sam better hope he isn't the Rams pick, or the Kansas City Chiefs', for that matter. In Missouri, there's no rule prohibiting businesses from firing employees because they're gay.
Sam made international headlines last month when he came out as gay. The all-star defensive player and University of Missouri graduate would be the first openly-gay man in the NFL if he gets drafted in May -- which he probably will.
Emory business students analyzed Twitter for the two days after Sam's public coming-out to judge how U.S. cities with NFL franchises would react to seeing Sam on their roster. St. Louis ranked as the No. 2 most welcoming, just behind New York City. Kansas City fans said they'd welcome Sam, too, putting them at No. 6 on the list.
Nashville, Oakland and Green Bay fans were the most negative about Sam coming to town. Yahoo! Sports writer Eric Edholm hypothesized fans there were still smarting from Mizzou's thumping of Vanderbilt there last season. Sam made three sacks during the game.
Study organizers said Show-Me State tweets about Sam usually also mentioned his alma mater, the University of Missouri.
But Missouri isn't a very gay-friendly state, especially for workers. While the law prevents employment discrimination based on factors like age, race and religion, it does not stop a company from firing an employee based on sexual orientation.
A bill to add sexuality to the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act died in the House when the clock ran out before state representatives could cast their votes.
"We need to end discrimination against LGBT Missourians in the workplace," Governor Jay Nixon said during this year's State of the State speech. "No Missourian should be fired because of who they are or who they love. Last year, the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act passed the Senate with bipartisan support but failed to get to my desk. Let's get it done this year."
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