Five DFL senators offered a bill on Thursday that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in jury service. The bill would add “sexual orientation” and “marital status” to current prohibitions against discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, national origin, economic status or a physical or sensory disability.”
In Minnesota state statute, “sexual orientation” covers gender identity as well.
The bill was introduced by Sens. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis; Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park; Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato; Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul; and Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis.
Last spring, an American Independent investigation revealed numerous instances of possible discrimination against LGBT jurors in both state and federal cases, including in Minnesota.
A bill was offered in the United States House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate last year to address the issue on the federal level. Neither bill was given a hearing in committee.
Sen. Dibble introduced similar legislation last session which was not heard in the Republican controlled Judiciary Committee.
Currently, only California and Oregon have explicit state laws barring discrimination against LGBT people in jury service.