Huffpost Gay Voices

Jury Selection Bill To End LGBT Discrimination Introduced In Washington

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Three U.S. senators have re-introduced legislation in hopes of abolishing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens during the federal jury selection process.

The Jury ACCESS (Access for Capable Citizens and Equality in Service Selection) Act of 2013 would prohibit the practice of striking jurors in federal courts on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a statement emailed to HuffPost Gay Voices.

The legislation, which was introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), has already been a number of LGBT advocacy groups including the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the National LGBT Bar Association and the Alliance for Justice.

“We simply can’t tolerate discrimination against a potential juror because of sexual orientation or gender identity," Shaheen is quoted as saying in the press release. "Our country is founded on the principles of inclusion, acceptance, and equality. The jury selection process in federal courts should reflect those principles."

Added Whitehouse: "This legislation will help ensure that no potential juror is blocked from serving solely based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity."

The proposed legislation follows the case of Christopher Lewis, a potential California juror who was described as a "man dressed a woman" by a trial judge in 2000 before being removed.

At the time, a state prosecutor argued that LGBT people "tend to associate more with the defendants" because they are "in a position of being in a microscope all the time and are outcasts," according to the American Independent.

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