Last edited: February 14, 2005


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

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Press Release

Mark F. Johnson, Media Director
202/332-6483 x3314
pager 1-800-757-6476
2320 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009

WASHINGTON, DC---January 12, 1998--- The Supreme Court today declined to hear the case of a woman who had a job offer rescinded because she is a lesbian.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 After she accepted, then-Attorney General Michael Bowers rescinded the offer after discovering she was planning a commitment ceremony with her partner.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.


The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has worked to eliminate prejudice, violence and injustice against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people at the local, state and national level since its inception in 1973. As part of a broader social justice movement for freedom, justice and equality, NGLTF is creating a world that respects and celebrates the diversity of human expression and identity where all people may fully participate in society.

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