Lincoln Memorial University Law Review Archive

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To this day, members of the LGBTQ+ community face discrimination in criminal sentencing, especially in capital punishment. Far too often, a defendant’s sexuality is used to demonize them to entice juror bias. Because of this, members of the LGBTQ+ community often face harsher sentences than those who are not. To help combat this issue, stricter safeguards must be implemented to help eliminate the discriminatory capital sentencing of defendants who identify as LGBTQ+.

While some classes, such as race and gender, are protected under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, courts have yet to determine whether sexual orientation should also be considered a protected class under the Equal Protection Clause. Regardless of whether sexual orientation is protected under the Equal Protection Clause, other safeguards should be used to combat LGBTQ+ discrimination. This note seeks to show how these safeguards must be used in conjunction to help prevent evidence of a defendant’s sexual orientation from being admitted at trial or sentencing for the sole purpose of prejudicing the jury.

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