On Michael Sam and gay rights

I am occasionally asked, with a degree of bemusement, why I am so strong-minded and outspoken on the subject of gay rights. It’s a topic I’ve supported at length in this space, from cheering on gay marriage to actively tracking open gay players in pro sports.

I thought I’d take a moment this morning, in the wake of Michael Sam’s groundbreaking announcement, to clarify that support. On some level, it’s personal, as I have numerous gay friends, many of whom are now married, which is heartening.

But on another, more important level, gay rights are about equality. I have never understood humanity’s need for a majority or ruling demographic to suppress the liberties, opportunities or comfort of another. Be it race, gender, religion or nationality, the fear and jealousy that drives this suppression has always upset me. I am strongly in favor of abortion rights, for example, and for multi-racial and interfaith marriages, in addition to institutionalizing support for gay rights.

Even while my own profile is rather straightforward—I’m an ordinary guy who married a woman of the same religion and similar cultural upbringing—I was allowed to choose my path to happiness, and I believe everyone should be afforded the same opportunity. And as a member of a minority religion, albeit a successful and well-assimilated one, I have an appreciation for what it means to be persecuted as well as accepted.

The world is a long way away from universal tolerance. But America comes pretty close, much of the time, and every small step toward openness and understanding is to be cheered. I am rooting for Michael Sam this year, not because he’s gay, but because he’s strong, and honest, and deserves to be a professional football player this spring. I hope he succeeds.