Legally Constricting Homophobia

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

August 5, 2011

Legally Constricting Homophobia

By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA

Extend Protection of LGBT People In Jury Selection

      A case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena argues that potential jurors should not be dismissed from a jury because they are LGBT. Last year, a trial judge allowed the dismissal of a lesbian from a jury in a trial of a gay Nigerian inmate. This is an error according to the federal public defender’s office that brought the case to court. Bringing this to court is a result of the Obama administration’s call for scrutiny of laws and practices that target LGBT people. The case is also an attempt to extend protection from arbitrary jury dismissal of LGBTs. It is illegal for lawyers to dismiss potential jurors because of race, gender, and religion. If the case goes our way, LGBT persons will be included in that protection.

Another Blow Against DOMA

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, the largest consumer bankruptcy court in the land, delivered another blow against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In the case of a gay couple who were married in that all too brief period when it was legal to marry in California, Judge Thomas B. Donovan wrote: “In this court’s judgment, no legally married couple should be entitled to fewer bankruptcy rights than any other legally married couple.” You go Judge. What makes this case even more unusual is that 19 of the 24 other judges in the district also signed the decision.

DOMA, the law that bars federal recognition of same sex marriages, is under attack on other fronts as well. The Obama administration concluded that DOMA is unconstitutional and the U.S. Attorney General wrote Congress that the administration would no longer defend it. Last year, a federal judge in Boston also declared DOMA unconstitutional. And New York’s Attorney General joined a court challenge arguing against DOMA’s constitutionality. Of course, House Speaker Boehner disagrees and declared if the administration wouldn’t defend DOMA, Congress would. He is just pandering.

The Glory Of Our Constitution’s 14th Amendment

Back in April, a federal judge in Columbus, Ohio, ruled that a lesbian plaintiff can proceed with her lawsuit wherein she claimed that she was denied promotion because of her sexual orientation and that her supervisors retaliated when she complained. The judge ruled that hers was a case falling under the equal protection clause of our constitution’s 14th amendment. The plaintiff still needs to make her case, but the ruling affects millions of gay civil servants who now are given a clear legal avenue for their discrimination complaints.

Why Are We Citing These Cases?

We believe that social acceptance and respect will take several generations. However long it takes, it must start with a legal foundation. We see these cases and others like it as slender fingers tearing into the cancerous mass of homophobia extracting chunks and at the same time building a legal framework that will eventually suffocate it.

 

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org

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