Court: Gays Can't Be Excluded From Juries Ruling extends legal protection for gays, lesbians By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted Jan 22, 2014 12:03 AM CST 13 comments Comments People can not be excluded from fundamental institutions because of their sexual orientation, the judges wrote. (Shutterstock) (Newser) – Another big step forward for gay rights: A federal appeals court has ruled that keeping gays and lesbians off juries because of their sexual orientation is just as unconstitutional as excluding women or minorities, reports the San Jose Mercury News. The ruling came in connection with a legal battle between pharmaceutical giants Abbott Laboratories and GlaxoSmithKline, in which GSK argued that Abbott's lawyers deliberately removed a gay juror because the case involved pricing of HIV drugs. "Gays and lesbians have been systematically excluded from the most important institutions of self-governance," one judge wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel. "Strikes exercised on the basis of sexual orientation continue this deplorable tradition of treating gays and lesbians as undeserving of participation in our nation's most cherished rites and rituals." For its decision, the San Francisco court relied partly on last year's landmark Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, notes the Wall Street Journal.