Former MU football player Michael Sam speaks at LGBTQ rights rally

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JEFFERSON CITY - A crowd of LGBTQ community members and supporters gathered in the Capitol rotunda to hear former MU football player Michael Sam speak in support of LGBTQ rights at Promo Missouri's annual equality day.

Promo Missouri advovates for LGBTQ rights through legislative action. 

Michael Sam, the first openly gay NFL draftee, focused his message on why he opposes Senate Joint Resolution 39 or the religious freedom resolution. The resolution is sponsored by Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake Saint Louis, and would protect businesses and individuals that refuse to provide services because of beliefs about same-sex marriage.

"This so-called liberty bill is a way to undermine LGBTQ rights," Sam said. "This ensures that LGBT people start at a loss."

Don Hinkle is a supporter of SJR 39 and is the director of public policy for the Missouri Baptist Convention. He said the issue is not all about religious liberty, but more about one's conscience. He said the government should not coerce anyone into believing anything.

"It doesn't take away anything from anybody. Gays can still get a marriage license, still marry in Missouri and they can still get all the services," Hinkle said. 

Hinkle said the joint resolution would put the issue in the hands of the voters.

"They can still get wedding cakes and wedding pictures. I just think that everyone from President Obama to right down to our local lawmakers in our cities have had their say on this issue," Hinkle said. "Well now it's time for our people to have their say on this issue and vote on it."

Joseph Banks started transitioning seven months ago. He wrote a letter to Missouri representatives, especially those who support SJR 39. 

"I'm from Missouri. I am very proud of my home," Banks said. "Now I am in a new journey and I feel like Missouri is turning its back on me and saying 'You're not welcome.'"

The resolution is currently in the House Committee for Emerging Issues and the committee is expected to vote Wednesday evening.