Minnesota Senators offer bill to end anti-LGBT discrimination in jury service

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.

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    Andy - I know Justice is

    Andy - I know Justice is blind and has her hands full, but someone deaf on a jury raises concerns. Surely astute on witness demeanor, but what if reading lips wrongly, or if nobody else on the jury understands signing. There would be a need for a translator during deliberation, as with witnesses or parties not speaking English at trial or in depositions. Sexual orientation should not be a juror qualification issue, surely, but having a deaf juror troubles me.