Press

NGLTF Says High Court Decision In Shahar Case Highlights Need For Increased Legislative Action

Date: 
January 13, 1998

The Supreme Court today declined to hear the case of a woman who had a job offer rescinded because she is a lesbian. An appellate court had previously ruled that the woman's civil rights were not violated by the employment discrimination.

Attorney Robin Shahar was offered a position in the Georgia Attorney General's office in 1991. After she accepted, then-Attorney General Michael Bowers rescinded the offer after discovering she was planning a commitment ceremony with her partner. Bowers claimed her lesbian relationship violated the Georgia sodomy law, which he himself defended in the precedent-setting Supreme Court decision Bowers v. Hardwick.

"The Supreme Court's action highlights the need for legislation at the state, local, and national level to promote equality and social justice for all people," said Kerry Lobel, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director. "Nearly one in four Americans live where discrimination based on sexual orientation is outlawed. Unfortunately Robin Shahar is not one of them. This case also serves as yet another reminder of how sodomy laws are used against us in many facets of our lives."

The state of Georgia does not have a history of supporting equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. There are no state laws banning discrimination or hate crimes based on sexual orientation. The state does ban same gender marriage and criminalizes sodomy.

"We must be vigilant not only in the passage of civil rights laws, but also in the repeal of sodomy laws," continued Lobel. Even though they are rarely enforced, they are frequently used as the basis for other forms of discrimination. Another well documented case includes Sharon Bottoms, who lost custody of her son because of Virginia's law.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.