LGBTQ-Inclusive Jury Service Non-Discrimination Legislation Advances to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker

LGBTQ-Inclusive Jury Service Non-Discrimination Legislation Advances to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker

Springfield – The Illinois General Assembly passed a measure on Wednesday that would establish non-discrimination protections in jury service for LGBTQ Illinoisans, according to Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Illinoisans. SB 1378 next moves to Gov. Pritzker for his consideration.

“Serving on a jury is a fundamental obligation of American government. Yet, unlike other pro-equality states, Illinois currently has no statutory provision for non-discrimination for LGBTQ people in jury service,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. “If a jury of one’s peers is to be representative of the community, such non-discrimination protections are essential. This legislative proposal would bring our judicial system nearer to eliminating discrimination and ensuring equal protection under the law.”

Under Senate Bill 1378, no person who is qualified and able to serve may be excluded from jury service in any state court on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The legislation, which was sponsored by State Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) and State Rep. Daniel Didech (D-Buffalo Grove), passed the Illinois General Assembly unanimously.

“We must strive to ensure Illinois remains one of the strongest states in the country for the protection of the rights of LGBTQ people,” said Johnson. “SB 1378 contributes to our progress. We thank Sen. Hutchinson and Rep. Didech for their leadership on this measure and for keeping Illinois moving forward.”

SB 1378 is trailer legislation to Public Act 100-0228, which established non-discrimination protections in state law that mirror the federal statute’s designation of “race, color, religion, sex, national origin and economic status” as protected classes for non-discrimination in jury service. Public Act 100-0228 passed the Illinois General Assembly unanimously in 2017.

Other states have similar LGBTQ-inclusive jury service non-discrimination laws, including California, Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Additionally, in SmithKline v. Abbott (2014), the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that equal protection prohibits jury service discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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