In a decision with wide-reaching implications, a federal appeals court ruled this week that potential jurors cannot be left off of juries based on their sexual orientations.
Remember the antitrust case involving two purveyors of HIV/AIDS drugs that was moving through appeals courts this September? (I know the answer's no - hence the link.) The short version: GlaxoSmithKline appealed a jury's verdict because lawyers for its opponent in the case, Abbott Laboratories, removed a gay man from the jury using a no-questions-asked peremptory strike.
Peremptory strikes can't be used to eliminate jurors based on race or gender, and Glaxo's lawyers argued that the same protections should be extended to gay jurors as well.
In a unanimous decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that discrimination based on sexual orientation should be subject to higher scrutiny by courts. Further, writing for the court, Judge Stephen Reinhardt said "we also hold that equal protection prohibits peremptory strikes based on sexual orientation."
Explaining further, Reinhardt writes "permitting a strike based on sexual orientation would send the false message that gays and lesbians could not be trusted to reason fairly on issues of great import to the community or the nation."
That certainly puts jury duty in a whole new light.
Raising our right hand and swearing on to other news:
- The folks who own Stolichnaya are putting up $300,000 to support a program that develops LGBT leaders. In an op-ed for The Advocate, SPI North America president John Esposito writes that the company wants to "make a significant and strategic investment in the global future of the LGBT movement." Likely also a factor: The company's need to recalibrate after the (possibly misguided) anti-Stoli backlash sparked by Russia's anti-gay law.
- 20somethings and teens who identify as transgender are increasingly turning to YouTube to share their stories and combat isolation.
- Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has concluded the state's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional and "will not defend" it in court, according to a court filing posted on BuzzFeed Thursday. Herring was sworn into his new post less than two weeks ago.
- The Sochi Olympics are two weeks away, and it's clear the event's sponsors aren't pulling out due to Russia's persecution of LGBT individuals - or, for that matter, due to the International Olympic Committee's decision to suppress athletes from expressing support of the LGBT community while the international spotlight is on them). So as sponsors like McDonald's start to publicize their Olympic-themed ad campaigns, the Internet is doing what it does best: parodying them to expose the problematic nature of the Olympic spirit.
- Following a Pennsylvania clergyman being defrocked for officiating his son's same-sex wedding, another Methodist reverend now faces the same charges.
- Another day, another talk show host seemingly putting her foot in her mouth. "The View" panelist Sherri Shepherd has apologized for comments she made during a Fusion interview that were perceived as being anti-gay and said Fusion omitted a crucial part of her comments. What Shepherd said, distilled: "I might not agree with your lifestyle, but I love you." Sherri, baby...
- The Transportation Security Administration has changed its policy on married same-sex couples and will now allow them to undergo pre-flight security screenings together, the Washington Blade reports. Good news, since nobody should have to experience the thrill of airport security alone.
That's the LGBT-related news that flew out at us this week. (That was an airplane pun.) What are you reading?