Jonathan D. Lovitz, a model and actor, was excused from New York jury duty last week after citing gay and lesbian Americans’ second class citizen status as reason for being unable to judge another person impartially.
After it all went down, Justin posted the following on his Facebook page:
“Just had an intense day at jury duty. During voir dire we were asked who would not be impartial. I raised my hand and said “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.” You wouldn’t believe how people in the room reacted.”
Of course, the minute Jonathan’s impartiality was in question he was let go.
Some may call this a case of introducing one’s sexual orientation into a sphere where it has no place, but given that even if gay people are allowed to marry, they are denied the 1049 or so federal rights and benefits of marriage because of the Defense of Marriage Act; that in New York, as in the majority of other states, gay and lesbian people are not allowed to marry or have their partnerships recognized and can not therefore access state-sanctioned rights including, often, the right to adopt; and that, without federal LGBT-inclusive employment nondiscrimination rules, employers in a majority of states can still fire people solely on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity, it becomes apparent that a small act such as this to protest such pervasive inequality takes on a greater significance.
Homeboy certainly made a strong case for himself and an easily digestible point to his fellow members grumbling their way through jury duty. While the rest of the potential candidates may not have agreed with Lovitz’ opinion, there is no denying the fact that he forced everyone in the room to consider how our government’s traditional archaic laws affect LGBT Americans.
We applaud him for raising his point in a sensible way, and bringing the conversation about equality to many people who may not otherwise have given it a second thought. Transforming public opinion on the rights of gay Americans sometimes begins with first taking those who are against us outside of their comfort zones. Fantastic work, Jonathan.
Nice head shots, too.
And just because we found it, here’s an interview Jonathan gave about being Broadway’s Hero of the Month.