Last edited: December 18, 2004

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 The show included a segment with openly lesbian lawyer Robin Shahar, whose job offer was withdrawn by Georgia Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Michael Bowers, who cited the state's sodomy law as justification.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. That’s oral or anal sex. They’re usually only enforced against some homosexuals. Chris Christiansen was arrested for proposing sex to another man.

CHRIS CHRISTIANSEN It’s the last people they have that they can pick on.

MICHAEL BOWERS They can have sex. They just can’t have sex with another boy.

JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Attorney General Mike Bowers argued the state’s 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 one’s 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) Robin’s a lesbian, married in a religious ceremony to Fran Shahar.

ROBIN SHAHAR People should be free to choose who they want to love. You can’t—you don’t have control over who you fall in love with.

MICHAEL BOWERS But that doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want to, no more than I can.

JOHN STOSSEL (VO) But Bowers, who’s now running for governor, did just what he wanted to do for 10 years. That means he’s 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 and—nude or whatever it is, as long as you’re not bothering anyone else, why should someone care?

JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Because it’s 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 can’t propagate the species. They’re not morally correct. They say you can’t legislate morality, but that’s what we do as a legislature every single day—setting 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 SHAHAR’S PARTNER If you don’t like it, don’t do it. But don’t tell me not to do it.

PETER MCWILLIAMS The problem comes when people come in and say, "God doesn’t want you to do that, and besides that, I think it’s a bad idea, and it makes me uncomfortable. So we’re going to put you in jail for your own protection."


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