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Democrats introduce bill to protect jurors from anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination

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The proposed law would safeguard one of the most fundamental rights and responsibilities of American citizens.

Cwnewser

Democrats U.S. Reps. Becca Balint ofVermont and Lizzie Fletcher ofTexas introduced a bill on Wednesday to clarify and expand protections against discrimination in jury service. Theproposed legislation, known as the “Juror Non-Discrimination Act of 2024,” seeks to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics.

The bill amends Chapter 121 of Title 28 in the United States Code to ensure that jury service is free from bias. Current federal law prohibits discrimination in jury selection based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and economic status. This new legislation expands these protections to include LGBTQ+ individuals explicitly.

“Federal law does not explicitly protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in the jury selection process. This is alarming because I do not trust the state of our political enemies,” Balint, who is out, said in an interview with The Advocate. “It is important for us to explicitly ban this kind of discrimination because when we exclude people from our community in a judicial process, then we are not able to participate and make it more free and more fair and more just.”

The Juror Non-Discrimination Act of 2024 includes several critical amendments to existing law. It inserts “sexual orientation and gender identity” after “sex” in crucial sections of the code. The bill defines “gender identity” as the gender-related identity, appearance, mannerisms, or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, regardless of their sex at birth. It expands the definition of “sex” to include sex stereotypes, pregnancy, childbirth, related medical conditions, sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics, including intersex traits. Additionally, it clarifies that “sexual orientation” encompasses homosexuality, heterosexuality, andbisexuality.

The bill has garnered support from various advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and the National Center forTransgender Equality.

More than 30 House cosponsors, including Reps. Robert Garcia and Mark Takano ofCalifornia,Wisconsin’s Mark Pocan,Florida’s Maxwell Frost, and Ritchie Torres ofNew York, support the legislation.

The introduction of this bill comes at a time when LGBTQ+ rights are under increasing scrutiny across the country.

Balint stressed the broader implications of the bill.

“I need people to understand that nobody is coming to save us. We have to do this work ourselves. One of the strongest things that people can do to support the queer community is to be fully engaged in the democratic process right now,” Balint said. “This bill is one piece of it, but we have to be more vocal. All of us and our allies.”

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Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).