Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Tales from the Front Lines: A Look at How Sodomy Laws Were Used to Victimize One Lesbian and One Gay Man

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Tales from the Front Lines: A Look at How Sodomy Laws Were Used to Victimize One Lesbian and One Gay Man

Article excerpt

Robin Shahar says she's happy working as a senior assistant city attorney in Atlanta -- but it's not the job she wanted. Indeed, criminal law was Shahar's interest when she graduated from law school in 1991. And everything seemed on track: Shahar was offered a staff attorney position in the office of Georgia attorney general Michael Bowers (the same Bowers who defended Georgia's sodomy law in Bowers v. Hardwick). Before starting her new job, however, Shahar and her partner, Fran, would be celebrating a commitment ceremony. Upon learning of the impending union, Bowers withdrew the job offer. Because Shahar is a lesbian, he reasoned, the public would perceive her as unwilling to enforce the sodomy law.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in federal court on Shahar's behalf, alleging that Bowers had violated her constitutional right to equal protection as wen as her freedom of intimate association and religion under the First Amendment. After losing a summary judgment ruling before the district court, Shahar won a landmark gay rights ruling on appeal in 1995 when a three-judge panel of the U. …

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