Statements made upon filing of petition for certiorari in Shahar v. Bowers to United States Supreme Court, October 31, 1997

Date

Date: 
10/31/1997

Statement by Lambda Managing Attorney Ruth Harlow, counsel of record for Robin Shahar No one should be fired from government employment because she celebrates and values a committed, loving relationship in her private life. That is why Robin Shahar was fired. This case is about her constitutional freedom of association, and that of all public employees. If the Court takes this case, it's ruling will have broad implications for all government employees' freedom to live their personal lives as they see fit. This case provides an opportunity for the Supreme Court to emphasize what the court of appeals ignored: the Constitution protects gay personal relationships the same way it protects all highly personal, important relationships. Robin Shahar is asking for equal treatment and respect under the Constitution. Bowers treated Robin differently than he treated the rest of his staff because she is a lesbian. We hope to end double standards that harm openly gay or lesbian public employees. This case is about where Bowers v. Hardwick ends and gay people's constitutional rights begin. The Court should put an end to the misuse of Hardwick. It does not provide a license for denying all constitutional freedoms to lesbians and gay men. Statement by Robin Joy Shahar It is with great awe and trepidation that I announce to you today Fran's and my decision to appeal to the United States Supreme Court. We look to the Supreme Court to be a voice of reason and justice where the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals failed. We look to the highest Court of our land to correct the terrible assumptions that no fair minded person can accept. What are some of these assumptions:

1. That public prejudice is sufficient reason for firing a public employee; 2. That a person's qualifications and proven record of excellence are irrelevant if the Attorney General chooses to act on the basis of fear and prejudice; and lastly 3. That my being a lesbian was not critical to the Attorney General's decision, but could somehow be distinguished from my choosing a woman as my life partner.
My decision to appeal stems from my firm belief that Bowers' firing me was unconstitutional. An essential part of the concepts of liberty and freedom is that we are free to love whomever we want. Heterosexuals do not have to choose between who they love and where they work. Neither should gay men and lesbians have to make that choice. Mr. Bowers' actions were blatantly discriminatory, and the majority of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has endorsed that discrimination. I am willing to pursue every legal remedy available to me to right these wrongs. I am willing to exhaust every legal remedy to achieve my vision of justice, a justice which protects the liberties of all persons, and protects all people from discrimination, regardless of their sexual orientation.
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