Serving as a juror is one of our most basic civic responsibilities, and one of the few obligations every citizen shares. Unfortunately, members of the LGBT community are not protected from discrimination during jury selection. I have introduced a bill to change that.
The Jury ACCESS Act (Access for Capable Citizens and Equality in Service Selection) would make it illegal to eliminate a potential juror during federal jury selection based on sexual orientation or gender identity. I’m pleased to be introducing this important bill with my colleagues Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
As we look back at history, women were systemically excluded from jury service until the 20th century as were racial minorities and the working poor.
We now have explicit protections in place to prevent striking jurors on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin and economic status. The question really is: how is it that in 2012 members of the LGBT community are not included on this list?
Unfortunately, we cannot legislate away the prejudices that people hold. But we must always look for ways to advance equality in our own lives. Often this means talking with our friends, our families, our neighbors who might disagree with us. Acceptance and understanding are learned traits, and we can all lead by example.