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Man Protests Gay Inequality and Gets Out of Jury Duty

Man Protests Gay Inequality and Gets Out of Jury Duty

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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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Quinn Anya.

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8:10AM PDT on May 30, 2011

A new approach. He tried and it worked. Not his fault.

2:37AM PST on Mar 12, 2011

I like this guy. Is he an activist here on Care2? If not, he should be.

11:01PM PST on Mar 10, 2011

Excellent John, Excellent
Again, I am just so sick & tired of people who do not have a life, poking their noses into someone elses. I wish people would just mind their own business...

4:36PM PST on Mar 9, 2011

He did well.. One more reality show?? OH no.. Just what we don't need... help us from them all.

2:07PM PST on Mar 8, 2011

Way to go John Lovitz!

7:21AM PST on Mar 8, 2011


2:24AM PST on Mar 8, 2011

I have ended up excused from jury duty because I gave up driving because I am just too bad of a driver to be able to afford the required insurance and the bus schedule to get to the jury duty is such that even if the buses ran like clockwork, taking the bus would make me at least fifteen minutes late. And of course the convenience of those running the system is more important than having as wide an assortment as possible of different jurors.

5:49PM PST on Mar 7, 2011

thanks for shared the article.

3:29PM PST on Mar 7, 2011

@ Ellen K: Ah. I see. Well, if that is the case, and both gay marriage and adoption are legal in NY, then Mr. Lovitz is indeed a grandstanding idiot with as big a mouth as mine and as little knowledge about his state laws as me. I guess my argument is purely hypothetical. :)

3:09PM PST on Mar 7, 2011

Our laws are a little more liberal here in Canada, so I can understand Jonathan's bitterness toward a government that proclaims that all men are created equal yet denies one man the rights of another based on a circumstance over which he has no control or choice - namely, being gay. His argument is valid. If he is so distracted by his relegation to second-class citizenship, he would not be an effective juror. What? They don't have enough jurors to take his spot? It was an opportunity to use his voice, and he took it. Good for him. Maybe other LGBTQ folks will follow his example and start a jury duty boycott and get themselves some long-overdue rights. This is not a matter of shirking one's civic duty; Jonathan still actively participated in the betterment of the system by bringing attention to a lack of civil rights. But then again, I think that denying two human beings the right to marry or have children is preposterous and I wonder why these laws haven't been tossed out years ago.

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