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Tommy Wingels of San Jose Sharks on NFL prospect Michael Sam

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The NFL scouting combine ongoing from Saturday, February 22 through Tuesday, February 25. It is second only to that league's draft day for off-season event significance. This year's was made all the more noteworthy is being the first with an openly-gay player, Michael Sam.

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Tommy Wingels of the San Jose Sharks knows a thing or two about gay prospects breaking ground. His University of Miami teammate Brendan Burke—son of former NHL general manager Brian Burke—came out in 2009.

Examiner caught up with Wingels after a recent practice and asked a few questions. The answers pictured here are relevant to Sam being likely the first NFL player to be out while active in the league and those in the companion article to his role with the Sharks.

Burke coming out began the fight to give lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual (LGBT) athletes a safe environment. He died in a car crash the next year, and his brother was one of the people launching the You Can Play Project Wingels now works with in March of 2012.

Examining Christianity in San Francisco and the Bay Area it sets the tone for without addressing the elephant in the room would be irresponsible. At the same time, Wingels would not talk about whether the religious movement to define marriage more narrowly has been an obstacle in his efforts, saying their focus remained on sports only.

The reality is that Christians are being challenged not from without but from within. This is not about a "gay agenda" from people that are just asking for equal rights.

This is about showing the love of God to everyone. It is about challenging ourselves to represent Christ and remember that Jesus challenged the religious leaders of his day for using scripture as a burden for the 39 verses that make up Matthew 23.

Christians must remember that certain scriptures were misinterpreted in the past to support slavery, banning interracial marriage and more. The important thing is not whether or not scriptures support a view as an action. Even if one believes someone's actions being condemnation upon them we must treat them with God's love in hopes they will be saved because He forgives all of us.

Living in the new covenant means no more Leviticus-style stoning, but remember Paul instructed all women to cover their heads in church in I Corinthians 11:2-16. We cannot pick and choose—no gay marriages but pagan ones or godless ones in our city halls are okay.

Legislating by faith is not the way to govern in a democracy. So many citing faith for these bans decry so much other "government interference." Whatever one believes, equal rights are a duty and condemnation is not the love of God or a way to serve His kingdom.

Whether a person can or cannot be converted, that person should have basic protection and a safe environment. When Sam courageously came out to his teammates at the University of Missouri, they made him captain and he led them to a fifth-ranked finish that was better than expected.

Intolerance does not get those kinds of rewards, nor should it. If Wingels and Sam have their way, players will be accepted for what they do when they are with the team, not away from it. The only way this issue goes away is to accept that we cannot dictate everyone's interpretations of scripture, remember our own are fallible and acknowledge that forced beliefs are not sincere ones.



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