ABC News Questions Sodomy Laws
The May 26, 1998 ABC News special "Sex, Drugs and Consenting Adults with John
Stossel" focused on differing opinions about whether several behaviors should be
decriminalized, including consensual adult sexual activity, prostitution, drug use and
selling pornography. The show included a segment with openly lesbian lawyer Robin Shahar,
whose job offer was withdrawn by Georgia Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate
Michael Bowers, who cited the state's sodomy law as justification. Stossel then
interviewed Fran Shahar, Robin's domestic partner, as well as two Georgia legislators with
differing opinions about same-gender relationships. Stossel provides well-rounded coverage
of a complex situation, including questioning the hypocrisy of Bowers' dismissal of Shahar
supposedly based on sodomy law while Bowers himself had had an extended extramarital
affair with a woman, also in violation of the letter of Georgia law (A full transcript of
the program is available online at:
The following is the excerpt on the Georgia Sodomy law:
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) In Georgia, there are laws against sodomy.
Thats oral or anal sex. Theyre usually only enforced against some homosexuals.
Chris Christiansen was arrested for proposing sex to another man.
CHRIS CHRISTIANSEN Its the last people they have that they can
MICHAEL BOWERS They can have sex. They just cant have sex with
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Attorney General Mike Bowers argued the states
position against homosexual sex all the way to the Supreme Court.
PETER JENNINGS, ABC NEWS The Supreme Court has handed down a decision
today which could affect the sexual habits of millions of Americans.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) The court sided with Bowers.
TV REPORTER States may make it a crime punishable by prison even when
committed in the privacy of ones own bedroom.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Bowers says morality was upheld. He then cited the
sodomy law when he took back a job offer from Robin Shahar.
ROBIN SHAHAR How could I have been fired for this? I mean ...
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Robins a lesbian, married in a religious
ceremony to Fran Shahar.
ROBIN SHAHAR People should be free to choose who they want to love.
You cantyou dont have control over who you fall in love with.
MICHAEL BOWERS But that doesnt mean they can do whatever they
want to, no more than I can.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) But Bowers, whos now running for governor, did
just what he wanted to do for 10 years. That means hes a criminal, too. Because
Georgia also has a law against adultery.
GEORGIA TV REPORTER Mike Bowers, married for 34 years and the father
of three grown children, carried on a love affair with a woman who worked for him in the
state law office.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Bowers admits to the affair but would not talk to us
about the hypocrisy.
ROBIN SHAHAR Mr Bowers penalized me for being honest while he rewarded
himself for lying.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) All this has led some Georgia legislators to try to
change the law.
STEVE LANGFORD, GEORGIA STATE SENATOR If you want to have a trampoline
in your bedroom and do flips andnude or whatever it is, as long as youre not
bothering anyone else, why should someone care?
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Because its against God, say many legislators.
Legalizing sex between people like the Shahars would be immoral.
MITCHELL KAYE, GEORGIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE Through some of these
acts, you cant propagate the species. Theyre not morally correct. They say you
cant legislate morality, but thats what we do as a legislature every single
daysetting curfews for our children, requiring people to wear seat belts, speeding
laws, other laws. We are legislating morality.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Of course, laws about children and speeding are
different. Children are not consenting adults, and speeders often hurt other people. But
the Shahars are consenting adults in the privacy of their own home.
FRAN SHAHAR, ROBIN SHAHARS PARTNER If you dont like it,
dont do it. But dont tell me not to do it.
PETER MCWILLIAMS The problem comes when people come in and say,
"God doesnt want you to do that, and besides that, I think its a bad
idea, and it makes me uncomfortable. So were going to put you in jail for your own
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