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See How Far a Onetime Enemy of Gay Equality Has Evolved

See How Far a Onetime Enemy of Gay Equality Has Evolved

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It's a complete 180o for Georgia's former attorney general -- a man who almost single-handedly stopped LGBT advances in their tracks.

Mike Bowers set the gay rights movement back 17 years. Bowers, Georgia's former attorney general, successfully argued to the Supreme Court in 1986 that bans on consensual gay sex are constitutional. His narrowly won case -- a 5-4 decision -- not only repudiated private same-sex relations, it helped usher in other antigay measures, like laws banning adoption by same-sex couples and policies allowing employees to be fired for being LGBT. It wasn't until 2003, with the Lawrence v. Texas case, that the Supreme Court fully reversed Bowers v. Hardwick and, in effect, set the foundation for future LGBT legal victories.

Now, almost 30 years after his Supreme Court victory, Bowers sings a different tune. Working with Georgia Equality, Bowers wrote a seven-page memo blasting a proposed "religious liberty" bill in his state that would allow antigay discrimination in the name of faith. He's also implying to Buzzfeed that he now supports marriage equality. To see how much things have changed for Bowers, compare some of the things he's said and done with his current philosophies:

1986
"Homosexual sodomy is not essential for ordered liberty, and social morality is in fact a legitimate use of the legislature's police power," part of Bowers's legal argument in Bowers v. Hardwick

versus

2015
"I believe if enacted into law this [Georgia] legislation will be an excuse to practice invidious discrimination," Bowers's seven-page memo excoriating the proposed "religious liberty" legislation

1986
"Upholding proscriptions of homosexual consensual sodomy is that homosexual sodomy has been proscribed from the beginning of the nation's history and ... many states still proscribe it," part of Bowers's legal argument in Bowers v. Hardwick

versus

2015
"This allows every parent to say, 'I'm going to beat the hell out of my kid in the name of religious freedom.' We don't need that," speaking to the Georgia Voice about the "religious liberty" bill, Tuesday

1990
After graduating at the top of her class from Emory Law, aspiring lawyer Robin Shahar accepted a position with the Georgia attorney general's office. Shortly afterward, Bowers -- Shahar's would-be boss -- discovered she was gay and rescinded her job offer. Shahar sued but ultimately lost.

versus

2015
"I never had an evil animus toward gay people. I never did. I worked with an awful lot of gay people in the attorney general's office, here in this law firm -- but that's for other people to judge," speaking to Buzzfeed, Wednesday

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