Shahar, who is openly gay, has worked for the city's law department since 1993 and is a Woodruff Fellow at Emory University's law school. Her new position will include advising the mayor on local, state, and national issues. She'll also serve as a liaison between Reed and community organizations to achieve "equal protection and treatment for Atlanta's LGBT residents, workers, and visitors."
"I am honored and privileged to work with a Mayor who cares deeply about LGBT equality, and who values diversity as integral to Atlanta's strength and vibrancy," Shahar said in a statement.
Georgia Voice points out that Shahar successfully fought against former Georgia Insurance Commissioner (and one-time gubernatorial candidate) John Oxendine in 1999 in making benefits available to city employees' domestic partners. Oxendine had previously opposed the plan because it opened the door to "illegal sexual relationships."
In addition, she also fought former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers in court in a discrimination case. The Georgia Voice writes:
Shahar is likely best known for suing Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers after he rescinded his job offer to her in 1991 when he learned she was planning a same-sex commitment ceremony[.]
Bowers had successfully defended the state's sodomy law in 1986 and said Shahar would not be able to enforce the law if she worked in his office. Shahar sued Bowers but the district court and federal courts ruled in favor of Bowers. In 1998, the Supreme Court declined to hear her case.
Reed called Shahar's new position a "vital role" in his administration. She'll now become his only openly-gay senior staff member, a role once filled by spokesman Reese McCranie, who now handles communications for Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
"In addition to her keen legal mind, she is well-respected in the community and will be an effective ambassador," Reed said in a statement. "My administration and I are dedicated to eliminating barriers to equality, fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and engaging the LGBT community across the city."
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