Michael Bowers, once the poster boy of anti-gay discrimination in Georgia, now supports marriage equality and workplace protections for LGBT people. Who said the state's old Republicans can't evolve?
The 73-year-old former state attorney general once fought to keep in place an anti-gay state sodomy law and fired an attorney once he discovered she's a lesbian. But this is 2015, the state is redesigning its marriage licenses to prepare for gay marriage, and even old Republicans can come around on LGBT issues.
Bowers' private evolution has likely taken years but publicly, it's been just a few short months. In February, he became a hired gun for Georgia Equality – the group that once blamed him for being the reason the gays were “criminalized through the entire country” – and blasted “religious freedom” bills as a gateway drug for anti-gay bigots.
A few weeks later, he hinted to the Georgia Voice that he didn't “want to see anybody discriminated against.” Might that mean marriage equality? Yes, Bowers said, even if he backdoored his support.
He steers things back to the law when asked his personal view on whether same-sex couples should have the right to marry.
“I have changed about that over the years and if that’s what the law is going to be, yes they should,” he says. “If that’s the way the law goes, yes. And if that is what the law is going to be, then their right ought to be protected—absolutely, positively, no question about it.”
He was more clear on whether LGBT people should be protected from being fired over sexual orientation, something he did in 1991.
“Yes. Listen, I’ve worked with a bunch of people for many years that are gay. I couldn’t care less,” he says. “I’m not telling you that to judge me in a particular way. Other folks are going to have to judge me when the judging time comes.”
On Sunday, the Bowers evolution continued. He told the AJC that “undoubtedly my views have changed.”
Asked about gay marriage this past week, Bowers said he is “probably for it. … I don’t want to see people hurt or discriminated against.”