Model, actor and singer Jonathan D. Lovitz found himself excused from jury duty in New York this past week because he voiced his concern that, given that he, a gay man, is made a second class citizen by the state denying him the right to marry and adopt, he could not judge another citizen impartially.
Jonathan wrote on his Facebook (via Justin, Plus One):
“Just had an intense day at jury duty. During voir dire we were asked who would not be impartial. I raised my hand and said “since I can’t get married or adopt a child in the state of New York, I can’t possibly be an impartial judge of a citizen when I am considered a second class one in the eyes of this justice system.” You wouldn’t believe how people in the room reacted.”
Of course, the minute Jonathan’s impartiality was in question he was let go.
Some may call this a case of introducing one’s sexual orientation into a sphere where it has no place, but given that even if gay people are allowed to marry, they are denied the 1049 or so federal rights and benefits of marriage because of the Defense of Marriage Act; that in New York, as in the majority of other states, gay and lesbian people are not allowed to marry or have their partnerships recognized and can not therefore access state-sanctioned rights including, often, the right to adopt; and that, without federal LGBT-inclusive employment nondiscrimination rules, employers in a majority of states can still fire people solely on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity, it becomes apparent that a small act such as this to protest such pervasive inequality takes on a greater significance.
The Human Rights Campaign is running an initiative calling on the New York Legislature to take up the issue of marriage equality, with a number of high-profiled figures having joined the campaign.
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