New England Senators Reintroduce Bill To End LBGTQ Jury Discrimination

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Two U.S. Senators from New England have teamed up to reintroduce a bipartisan bill to prevent jury discrimination against people in the LGBTQ+ community.

The Jury Access for Capable Citizens and Equality In Service Selection (ACCESS) Act, introduced by New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Maine Senator Susan Collins (R), would prohibit federal courts from discriminating against jurors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Discrimination has no place in our justice system," Shaheen said. "Every citizen – regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity – should be able to fulfill their civic duty and serve as jurors."

The current U.S. code only protects against juror discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin and economic status.

“Serving on a jury is a fundamental right and obligation that no individuals should be prohibited from fulfilling based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Collins said. “I have long worked to fight discrimination, and I am proud to join this effort to help eliminate bias from our judicial system.”  

According to AP News, eleven U.S. states prohibit exclusion from jury service in state court based on sexual orientation, and eight protect against discrimination based on gender identity. The ACCESS Act would expand both of those protections under federal law for the first time.

The bill is cosponsored by Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey (D), Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D), and several other lawmakers from varying states.

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Written by Rachel Armany

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