An openly gay Florida man is feeling slighted, so he has refused to serve on jury duty. What does one really have to do with the other? You’re feeling bad over a perceived slight so you refuse to do your civic duty. That’s one way of looking at it, but what do you think?
63-year old Chuck Chapman, of Jacksonville, showed up this week for jury duty at the Duval County Courthouse. He says when the Judge asked the group of perspective jurors if any of them had potential biases or prejudices, he saw his chance to stand up for what he believes.
Chapman says he raised his hand and said, “I just don’t feel comfortable in the courthouse. If the clerk of the court doesn’t feel comfortable performing same-sex marriages, as an openly gay man, I don’t know how I can feel comfortable in court.”
After a federal court ruled Florida’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, the Clerk of Courts, Ronnie Fussell, said his office would comply with the ruling and issue marriage licenses for all types of marriages. However, he says that his staff feels uncomfortable performing gay marriages, so the courthouse will no longer host weddings for either straight or gay couples.
Chapman says he knew going into the proceedings that he could be found in contempt of court for refusing to serve on the jury, but he did not care. He says he felt it was his opportunity to support his lifestyle. However, he was not selected for jury duty.
He says he is not just standing up for the gay community, but the community at large. “There’s money being lost on that courthouse because the clerks of the court do not feel comfortable marrying same-sex partners,” Chapman says.
The Jacksonville Bar Association has proposed a plan to the judges that will allow a non-profit law firm to perform weddings. A spokesman for the law firm, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, says the law firm is happy to participate if the judges ask.