The Dallas Cowboys decision to hire the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL was met with the threat of protests from the conservative Christian group, “American Decency” which planned to protest this past Sunday outside the game in Arlington where the Cowboys played their first game.
Thankfully, the planned protest fizzled out. According to the organizer of the protests, the rally was called off due to death threats he received. But more likely it was dropped because even other Christian groups rallied around the Cowboys’ decision and called out the group “American Decency.” Whatever the reason was, thankfully the game went on without a hitch.
The continuing problem is that this should never have even been news. Media attention on all these anti-gay groups gives them a platform to spread their hate and their own brand of morality. Gay people and the rights of gays, yes - even to marry, is out in the open and their ability to live and make choices the way heterosexual couples do is becoming a part of normal American life.
I am not saying there is complete acceptance everywhere. Of course not. But thanks to television shows which depict positive gay characters and thanks to the openness of such popular celebs like Ellen Degeneres, Ellen Page, Neil Patrick Harris and CNN host Anderson Cooper, among others, even folks outside of New York and Los Angeles have begun to accept LGBT rights.
While there are still bastions of anti-gay people, those people are becoming the minority. While only nineteen states and Washington, D.C., allow marriage for same-sex couples, there seems to be movement in that direction for some other states as well. According to a Gallup poll this past May, “Americans' support for the law recognizing same-sex marriages as legally valid has increased yet again, now at 55%. Marriage equality advocates have had a string of legal successes over the past year, most recently this week in Pennsylvania and Oregon where federal judges struck down bans on gay marriage.”
So the movement is clearly in the right direction. The future looks especially bright. That same Gallup poll shows that among younger people, those 18 to 29 years old, support for gay marriage is actually at 78%.
It is not surprising that the South had the least support for gay marriage, but at 48%, even there, feelings are practically split. And, of course, Republicans are less likely than Independents and Democrats to want to see gay people walking down the aisle and kissing, like the image of Michael Sam and his boyfriend which set so many of them off. Only 30% of Republicans support gay marriage. 74% of Democrats do.
So Michael Sam and the many other people out there who just want to live their own lives and love who they want to love, and those of us who support their right to do so, can take heart. Hate it as they may, those that hold onto the anti-gay sentiment, is on its last leg. Equality for all is becoming much more than just an empty American phrase. And while Michael Sam may be the first openly gay player drafted, you can bet he wasn’t the first gay player, and he certainly won’t be the last.