Jury anti-discrimination passes Minnesota Legislature

A bill that would prohibit discrimination in jury service based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status passed the Minnesota House last Monday and the Senate on Friday. The bill now heads to Gov. Mark Dayton who is expected to sign the bill into law. Once that happens, Minnesota will become the third state behind California and Oregon to bar such discrimination.

Discrimination against LGBT people in jury service has been on ongoing problem in the state and federal court systems. As I noted in my report for the American Independent last spring, LGBT people can be kicked off of juries even in cases where an LGBT person is being tried. And the federal government has made no effort to rectify that. A pair of bills aiming to bar such discrimination are currently languishing in the U.S. Senate and House.

In Minnesota, the bill passed the House unanimously on Monday and passed the Senate 39-13 on Friday.

There was little debate on the bill except for Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove.

Limmer asked the bill’s author, Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, “I wonder why it would be needed if this rarely — if never — has occurred in Minnesota courts.”

Dibble responded, “I can say it has happened several times… it should never happen in Minnesota courts rarely or otherwise.”

Voting “no” in the Senate were 13 Republicans: Bruce Anderson of Buffalo, Michelle Benson of Ham Lake, Roger Chamberlain of Lino Lakes, Gary Dahms of Redwood Falls, Paul Gazelka of Brainerd, Dan Hall of Burnsville, Mary Kiffmeyer of Big Lake, Warren Limmer of Maple Grive, Scott Newman of Hutchinson, Sean Nienow of Cambridge, Dave Thompson of Lakeville, Bill Weber of Luverne, and Torrey Westrom of Elbow Lake.

The same number of Republicans voted for the bill: David Brown of Becker, Michelle Fischbach of Paynesville, David Hann of Eden Prairie, Karin Housley of St. Mary’s Point, Jeremy Miller of Winona, Carla Nelson of Rochester, Julianne Ortman of Chanhassen, David Osmek of Mound, John Pederson of St. Cloud, Branden Petersen of Andover, Eric Pratt of Prior Lake, Julie Rosen of Fairmont, and Carrie Ruud of Breezy Point

Also voting for the bill were DFLers Terri Bonoff of Minnetonka, Jim Carlson of Eagan, Greg Clausen of Apple Valley, Kevin Dahle of Northfield, Scott Dibble of Minneapolis, Chris Eaton of Brooklyn Center, Kent Eken of Twin Valley, Melisa Franzen of Edina, Barb Goodwin of Columbia Heights, Foung Hawj of St,. Paul, John Hoffman of Champlin, Alice Johnson of Spring Lake Park, Susan Kent of Woodbury, Ron Latz of St. Louis Park, Lourey of Kerrick, John Marty of Roseville, James Metzen of South St. Paul, Sandy Pappas of St. Paul, Roger Reinert of Duluth, Bev Scalze of Little Canada, Katie Sieben of Newport, Dan Sparks of Austin, Leroy Stumpf of Plummer, Patricia Torres Ray of Minneapolis, Chuck Wiger of Maplewood, and Melissa Wiklund of Bloomington

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