Discrimination | Law - Gay, LGBT | New York | News

Watch: Man Excused from Jury Duty for Being Gay

Lovitz

Jonathan Lovitz, a gay New Yorker, was excused from jury duty earlier this week. The reason for his dismissal is getting quite a bit of attention.

Here's what he told the judge: 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." 

The judge agree. Lovitz appeared on MSNBC on Wednesday, where he discussed the jury duty incident, and was also given a nice plug for his upcoming LOGO reality show, Set-Up Squad.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Folks...a word to the wise. The trolls who come on here and blast any person who puts GAY RIGHTSedia as a "media whore" is a homophobic troll. NO gay person would....ever...and I mean EVER belittle a fellow gay person putting the spotlight on our inequality.

    They are trolls. They are homophobic trolls, and that goes for anyone who has critical things to say about this bravery of putting emphasis on our inequality. Do not engage the trolls.

    *Editors note: They did the same with Dan Choi. They do it with Lady Gaga. They do it with any gay celebrity that publically comes out. They (homophobic posters) have great disdain toward ANYONE who goes to the media to speak on inequality toward gays. If they had it their way, we would all be silenced.

    Posted by: SteveATL | Mar 11, 2011 4:22:03 PM


  2. WELL SAID STEVEATL!

    I've said it for ages, but anytime you see the words -media whore- next to an ally who is speaking to the press in regard to gay rights: please know that it's coming from either a self loathing/self hating queer or a bigoted troll.

    Code word is 'media whore' or being acussed of publicity and you have to consider your source (a homophobe)

    And OF COURSE these folks want publicity. Any self respecting gay wants to publicize the fact that we are treated like second class citizens. A notion you bigots like "Lee" (who I'm pretty sure is Ratbastard using a different handle) want to demolish because if you had it your way, no gay people would ever dare speak on gay rights, the issue of equality and our being treated like second class citizens.

    You've been outted once again trolls.

    Posted by: IonMusic | Mar 11, 2011 4:28:17 PM


  3. The host closed with the wrong question. He didn't get exempted because he thought he was second-class. In the US, all LGBTs are second-class. He was exempted because he thought he could not be impartial.

    Still, shouldn't he have to say in what way he would be biased? Is he saying that he would vote that all straight people are guilty? While revenge is sweet, he's also admitting to being a bigot. That probably isn't good.

    Posted by: Randy | Mar 11, 2011 4:30:20 PM


  4. Unless we get serious with our injustices and lack of rights by doing very prominent things like this man did; then we will continue being treated as second class. I applaud him and take the opportunity to engage, educate and protest the fact that I am not the equal of the straight person next to me every chance I get. Other than a close case coward, I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't see the benefit of making our voice less wimpy and more strong. That's what attains attention, strength and respect. Not sitting on the sidelines and wishful thinking this year will be your year.

    Posted by: Mark | Mar 11, 2011 4:31:58 PM


  5. He needs to make a political statement somewhere else. His duty as an American citizen is to serve on a jury when summoned.

    Posted by: Jack M | Mar 11, 2011 4:34:37 PM


  6. I don't buy that he did it strictly on principle and not also to get out of jury duty, but if he did, I still strongly disagree with this tactic.

    Already in NY, based on my three experiences, the jury pool is dangerously tilted toward "whoever isn't 'smart' enough to get out of it." If we now as gay people are going to boycott jury duty, we have no right to expect justice when cases affecting us go before juries.

    Posted by: Matthew Rettenmund | Mar 11, 2011 4:51:12 PM


  7. Randy and Jack (presumbly the same poster as "Lee") we've been the nice guy long enough. We've taken a back seat long enough. WE as gays are finally getting serious about our rights and not taking crap from anyone. I think folks like you are just too comfortable with seeing the weak, kind, nice gay guy. Not anymore. Not any longer. Enough of gays trying to be the bigger guy. That's not working out for us anymore. DEMAND change now. I love that this is getting the press it deserves and clearly the opposition (anti gay) people on here are getting their feathers ruffled by it.

    Posted by: ActNow | Mar 11, 2011 5:30:50 PM


  8. I love what he did and what he stood up for. His courage makes him even more attractive. Some gays choose to live their lives hiding in the closet, mierable, self hating, in shame while making comments pathetic lonesome comments like "my sexuality doesn't define me" while other, more outstanding and upstanding gays who have a spine use that spine to bring attention to our plight. That to me is such an appealing quality. Far more than a gay man who puts on "straight face" in public and goes gay in the bedroom. That's not a man, that's a coward. If only more gay peeps were as commited to their rights as this guy.

    Posted by: Jason L. | Mar 11, 2011 5:37:06 PM


  9. If we're going to be treated as second class citizens, then we deserve the right to attain the perks that come with that. some of us don't sheepishly line up for heteros doing everything we're told with a smile. some of us man up and don't take too lightly being told to stand in the back of the line.

    Posted by: IonMusic | Mar 11, 2011 5:43:59 PM


  10. @ Jack M:

    His country fails to serve his duty of being treated equally in the law of the land. His country fails to provide him with the basic civil rights his heterosexual counter parts are afforded. His country has made a case of using him and his sexuality as a reason to exploit and belittle him. His country has done very little for him, and demands very large efforts in return. Keep your false sense of patriotism out of reality.

    Posted by: Dynex | Mar 11, 2011 5:48:47 PM


  11. Leaving aside what motivated Lovitz to do what he did, and whether what he said was entirely accurate, I don't what he did does anything to advance gay rights. Stating that you are being treated like a second-class citizen to a limited audience has a negligible impact. Other jurors are either going to be sympathetic or resent anyone who finds a way to get out of jury duty that they can't use.
    And gay people not serving on a jury is not something that hurts anyone other than anyone who relies on juries for justice, particularly gay people. If I were gay bashed and my basher was using some sort of gay-panic defense, I would most certainly want gay people on the jury.
    Lawyers generally don't want thoughtful, informed people on juries -- people who are more likely to be able to think for themselves. They like it that so many educated and professional people try to get out of jury duty. Many of them would be quite happy if large numbers of gay people, particularly those who have a political awareness, were not to be on juries.
    In general gays probably have a greater sense of justice (in the broadest sense of the word) than others, if only because we're aware of so much injustice. I think we should be eager to serve on juries, and we should not regard getting out of jury duty as being politically meaningful, however good it may feel to speak the truth about being second-class citizens.

    Posted by: MichaelJ | Mar 11, 2011 5:58:34 PM


  12. I did nearly the same thing in 2004. Gavin Newsom had given the go-ahead for same-sex marriages to be performed in San Francisco. My boyfriend and I had made an appointment for the first available time, which was a several days away. Then the California Supreme Court ordered the marriages to be stopped. We were extremely disappointed... but not that surprised.
    Just a couple weeks later I was summoned for jury duty. The judge explained what the case was about and began questioning the jurors. When she asked my marital status, I began to explain and my anger began to bubble up.
    I said that I would be newly married except for the fact that the Court system of California had decided that I wasn't allowed to do that. That I had an appointment to be married to my boyfriend, but that our wedding was cancelled by the very court system that I was being asked to participate in now. I said that the defendant in this case was married, so by law his wife couldn't testify against him. But if I was being tried, my boyfriend could be called to testify against me. Was that fair? Or just?
    I said that I was very angry and resented being asked to be on a jury of this man's "peers" when I so clearly was not considered an equal of him or anyone else on the jury.
    All of this came tumbling out of me without any planning or thought--it was just my honest response when they asked if I was married or single.
    The judge, the lawyers, and most of the potential jurors seemed very sympathetic. I believe they could hear the genuine hurt and anger in my voice. And they knew that I had a very good point.
    I was dismissed from the case and they sent me home.

    I applaud Jonathan for taking a stand. We all should whenever possible. It's the cumulative effect of small acts like this that are winning our equal rights.

    Four years later, my boyfriend and I made another appointment to get married in San Francisco and that time it actually happened. I just hope that everyone has the right again very soon.

    Posted by: StillmarriedinCA | Mar 11, 2011 7:15:52 PM


  13. What bullshit. I served on a jury one time. I was a contract worker at the time, and I was not getting paid during the service and was losing money each day I was there. The days were often tedious and annoying at times, but ultimately it was rewarding and and enriching experience. I would do it all over again.

    Shame he deprived himself of that over a silly publicity stunt. Oh but he's so cute [allegedly], so all is forgiven. GAG.

    Posted by: Jane Roe | Mar 11, 2011 9:37:50 PM


  14. Oh, and don't get me started on the illogic of supposedly fighting for civil rights by shirking your civil duties. That would be like African-Americans in the South in the 1950s fighting against the right to vote.

    Posted by: Jane Roe | Mar 11, 2011 9:44:56 PM


  15. I did this 20 years ago and got zero press. I'm firing my publicist!

    Posted by: dms | Mar 11, 2011 10:20:24 PM


  16. JaneRoe....you're trolling and bigotry on an out, proud gay site makes us laugh. Considering you took the time to log on a gay site and rant about your displeasure of a pro gay story. I know you bigots are alarmed by the large number of gays who refuse to take your crap anymore, but this is just the start of our culture war. Whatever myth you have bought into believing gays are weak and sweet is actually not the case...we can get ruthless, agressive and downright combative if need be. Sorry to see that is clearly frustrating you and your ilk so much, but again dear, just the start from us. A community more galvanized than ever before. Expect for more stories like this fantastic one to emerge.

    Posted by: Dynex | Mar 12, 2011 5:16:53 AM


  17. We will never achieve equality if we just roll over and be nice people pleasing citizens. It is so much more difficult for gay people to have a family if they cannot marry and if people treat us like we're "less than." There are even jewish people who acknowledge their homosexuality but agree to marry someone of the opposite sex so they can have some semblance of "normalcy," meaning a wife and kids. We underestimate how much pain we suffer because of religious or culturally infused bias, perpetuation of the belief that we are automatically "immoral" because we're gay, that god is going to send us to hell for making us who we are!

    Posted by: MudgeBoy | Mar 12, 2011 7:42:29 AM


  18. This has really bad implications: if a gay person is deemed unfit to serve on a jury (because the person would be biased due to second-class citizenship), then it logically follows that a judge would similarly be unfit to serve at a trial. Judges, jurors, the list goes on.

    How many conservatives are going to pounce on this and say that GLBT people are unfit to perform all kinds of jobs and services?

    Posted by: David | Mar 12, 2011 8:52:15 AM


  19. As usual people here are all over the spectrum with the issue, which is not a bad thing, just a matter of view point. I said years ago that since I did not have the same rights as straights that I should not have to pay the same taxes, especially in light that my taxes went to pay for services I did not get, to politicians that fought against my rights, and mostly that religions who fought against my rights paid no taxes at all.

    As for jury duty, I do not believe for a minute if courts excused us, the right wing could use it as a tool against us. Personally I would not mind serving but it will never happen. I've been called for over three decades and am always excused because of my background.

    They ask if you are or have relatives working in law enforcement or in the justice system. My brother was an ADA, that was always an out. If you or a close one was involved in a crime or trial, another brother was a victim and witness at a murder/attempted murder trial. Again I was denied even when saying I would not be influenced in either circumstance.

    It is the lawyers right, on both sides, to remove anyone they deem to be a threat to their case, I get it. So if you are gay, which came up once when I was asked if I did volunteer work, I did at the time for the GMHC, and was released, that may be a reason for why ever the lawyer sees in their case.

    Like it or not there are always going to be issues with being gay, no matter how many rights we win, there will be people who judge us, and judges who rule for or against us.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Mar 12, 2011 11:32:26 AM


  20. As a personal stand, I sort of respect it. As an opportunity for a singer/actor/model/etc to get some air time (and plug his show) not so much.

    Frankly, I hope this doesn't catch on as a way to get out of jury duty or even as some sort of act of civil disobedience. I think it would just hurt the cause of gay rights.

    Personally I feel quite strongly that my sexual identity has not had any sort of diminishing effect on my intellectual capacity. Consequently I feel quite certain that it has not impaired my ability to be impartial and serve on a jury.

    Posted by: a | Mar 12, 2011 6:41:54 PM


  21. I am missing something here. I understand that he feels he should be excused because he is treated as a second class citizen but being gay has no bearing on his ability to be impartial surely, unless the case required him to be impartial about something that he couldn't be impartial about because he is gay?

    He makes a good point but its a shame in another way that he didn't want to do it because its important to get a cross- section of society represented on a jury; whatever their race, political views, age, gender, sexuality etc.

    Posted by: atheist | Mar 12, 2011 7:55:09 PM


  22. Why are they standing at that cocktail table with no cocktails in hand?

    Posted by: Sargon Bighorn | Mar 12, 2011 8:53:34 PM


  23. He wasn't excused for being gay. He was excused because during voir dire he said that he could not be an impartial juror based on his belief that he is a second class citizen due to being gay.

    Personally, my self esteem is higher than that and I would have no problem being an impartial juror. I understand his point, but taking the victim role, well, just makes you a victim.

    The judge could have just as easily told him to put his big girl panties on and deal with it, but probably had no desire to risk the outcome of the trial or possible appeals or deal with a drama queen juror who doesn't understand his role in the process.

    Posted by: Beef and Fur | Mar 14, 2011 4:30:51 PM


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