Lambda responds to Bowers admissions

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund issued a statement June 5 in response to the admissions of adultery and hypocrisy this morning by former Attorney General of Georgia Michael Bowers, who is now a candidate for governor of that state.

Bowers admitted this morning in an interview with the Associated Press that he had a decade-long adulterous affair while Attorney General of Georgia. At the same time, Bowers fired an attorney on his staff, Robin Shahar, because she planned to engage in a private religious marriage ceremony with her female partner.

"Former Attorney General Michael Bowers said it best himself -- he is a hypocrite. He also has violated the Constitution by imposing more exacting standards on Robin Shahar, an honest gay employee in a loving, legal, monogamous relationship, than he imposed on himself," said Ruth Harlow, now managing attorney at Lambda's national headquarters and lead counsel for Robin Shahar since the ACLU's filing of Shahar v. Bowers in 1991.

"We've been saying throughout the litigation that Georgia's antiquated laws against all kinds of consensual sexual behavior -- including adultery -- are irrelevant to a state attorney's qualifications. Given his own behavior, Michael Bowers would finally have to agree," said Harlow.

"Those laws certainly can't be used to harm gay and lesbian attorneys' employment chances while being flouted by the Attorney General himself," Harlow emphasized.

Bowers's decision to fire Shahar is challenged in a case where the Eleventh Circuit, three days before his admission, ruled 8-4 in his favor.

Lambda is the nation's oldest and largest legal organization defending the rights of lesbians, gay men, and people with AIDS and HIV. In late June, it will open a Southern Regional Office in Atlanta, the first such office for a national gay organization. Headquartered in New York, Lambda has regional offices in Chicago and Los Angeles.

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