Daughter of lawyer who defended anti-gay Prop 8 comes out, getting married

Gay rights advocates have always said that “coming out” was the most important thing a gay person could do to advance our civil rights.  It’s why “National Coming Out Day,” October 11, was established years ago.

With the amazing advances we’ve made on the civil rights front in the past several years (and decades really), I think people sometimes forget that not everyone is “out,” and not everyone has a close relative who (they know) is gay.

That’s why the story of Charles Cooper, the lawyer who argued just last year before the US Supreme Court in favor of the constitutionality of California’s gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, is so compelling.

Cooper’s daughter came out to him, is getting married to another woman, and Cooper is helping her plan the wedding.

Prop 8 plaintiffs outside the Supreme Court.

Prop 8 plaintiffs outside the Supreme Court.

Cooper now says his views on gay marriage are “evolving,” invoking the phrase that President Obama used several years ago in response to a question on gay marriage from then- AMERICAblog deputy editor Joe Sudbay.

Oh what a difference a year makes.

Cooper said the following about his new views: “My views evolve on issues of this kind the same way as other people’s do, and how I view this down the road may not be the way I view it now, or how I viewed it ten years ago.”

Dad is still a little cagey on whether he thinks his daughter is about to bring about the ruin of mankind.

Cooper’s quote was in a new book about the gay marriage battle by Jo Becker, “Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality.”  The book reportedly credits AFER, an organization set up by now-head of HRC Chad Griffin, with the success that is today’s movement for marriage equality.

And I’m not so sure.

AFER was the tsunami leading the battle on gay marriage, until Edie Windsor stepped in and crossed the finish line first.

You’ll recall two things.  First, while AFER defeated Proposition 8 in lower courts, the Supreme Court threw the case out for lack of standing.  That left a lower court decision in place, one that struck down Prop 8 and let gay marriages start up again in California.  But it had no impact outside of California.


Edie Windsor

Second, Edie Windsor, on the other hand, took her case all the way to the Supreme Court, and it was Windsor’s case last summer that the Supreme Court used to strike down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  That decision has now led to 14 consecutive victories in court for same-sex marriage advocates in less than a year.

Proposition 8 was a uniquely evil referendum.  It didn’t just ban gay marriage.  It repealed an already-existing civil right in California of gay couples to marry.  It also was intended to dissolve the already-existing legal marriages of 18,000 gay couples.  So don’t let anyone tell you Prop 8 was simply “opposition to gay marriage.”  It was a brutal, ugly play by the Mormons, the Catholics and the religious right to actually take civil rights away from American citizens, and to dissolve their marriages.  Something unheard of in the gay rights, or civil rights, battle.


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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23 Responses to “Daughter of lawyer who defended anti-gay Prop 8 comes out, getting married”

  1. ericxdc says:

    maybe the coopers and the cheneys can get together for a regular “if it wasn’t for my daughter, I’d be crushing you right for fun and profit” club meeting.

  2. dcinsider says:

    Thanks for this. Excellent.

  3. jayjonson says:

    Two things: Cooper not only defended Prop 8, but earlier in his career, when he was an Assistant Attorney General in the Reagan Justice Department, he wrote a policy memo that said that people suffering from AIDS were not entitled to protection from discrimination under the laws that prohibit discrimination because of a handicap. He also wrote a brief on behalf of several states defending Colorado’s notorious Amendment 2. In addition, he defended Hawaii’s denial of marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples before the state Supreme Court in one of the very first marriage equality cases (in 1997, if I remember correctly.) So he has a long history of anti-gay activism. Discovering that his step-daughter is gay is an especially satisfying manifestation of karma.

    Also, the importance of the Prop 8 battle should not be judged by the fact that it ended with a whimper, with the Supreme Court dismissing the appeal because of a lack of standing. More than any other piece of litigation, it caught the imagination of the grass roots. It brought much needed attention to the cause and it exposed the lack of substance to the “defense of traditional marriage.” The 2010 trial, and its reenactment, made thousands of people aware of the issues and of the difficulties in achieving justice in this country.

  4. dcinsider says:

    Bad karma for the daughter and her spouse I fear.

  5. lynchie says:


  6. bbock says:

    Usually correct. There are some exceptions. Ken Mehlman did evil things, including denigrating gays by supporting his boss’ (President George W. Bush) call to pass an anti-gay amendment to the US Constitution. That’s pretty big harm and is compounded by his sexuality. But he has, by most accounts been working to make up for some of the harm he did. Don’t get me wrong. I hope he dies painfully. But he apparently is at least trying to change.

  7. TellMeImDreaming says:

    Amazing how as soon as it’s a family member and not a stranger the spite and calumny stop.

  8. AnthonyLook says:

    “My views evolve on issues of this kind the same way as other people’s do, and how I view this down the road may not be the way I view it now, or how I viewed it ten years ago.”——-give credit when it’s due; we welcome his social evolution.

  9. Krusher says:

    I got dismissed from jury duty today after the judge asked me if I had any negative feelings about lawyers. I was under oath at the time, so I had to answer honestly.

  10. Julien Pierre says:

    Who knows, maybe he will planned on using the money he earned defending Prop 8 to pay for his daughter’s same-sex wedding all along ?

  11. Swami_Binkinanda says:

    It said he was a lawyer.

  12. Buford says:

    Cooper is an empathy-lacking piece of crap who deserves no kudos for his newfound open-mindedness. It’s disgusting when these dirtbags fight tooth-and-nail to codify discrimination against strangers of a certain type but then change their tune as soon as that discrimination affects someone they know.

  13. BeccaM says:

    I agree. And if I could ask Cooper a couple questions, they would be:

    “So we see you seem to be fine with your daughter marrying another woman and enjoying all the legal rights and protections that entails, from the federal to the state level. Does that mean you’ve changed your mind from when you argued before the Supreme Court, when you said the state had a compelling interest to limit marriage to heterosexual breeders only? And a follow-up: If you daughter and her wife have any children, will you consider them to be not as good as children of hetero couples? Will you let those kids call you ‘grand-dad’, even if your daughter isn’t the birth-mother? Would you consider those children to be better off if someone other than your gay daughter — a heterosexual couple — was raising them?”

  14. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    The lack of empathy from men like Cooper is still astounding.

    Yeah. It’s a bizarre side-effect of endorsing a religion that purports to teach us that we’re all brothers and sisters as fellow children of the same Creator and that because of original sin all human judgment is fundamentally flawed and untrustworthy: its adherents tend to be some of the most judgmental and self-centered people on the planet. Not sure how the one follows from the other two but there you have it.

  15. Jeff_Selbst says:

    They don’t ever try to make amends. They don’t apologize. They don’t admit wrongdoing. This is standard for sociopathic rightists. Look at Rob Portman. In the forefront of the marriage equality fight now, is he? Hah.

  16. Yeah, he’s not there yet, which is annoying, sad, but typical of far too many.

  17. Thom Watson says:

    The lack of empathy from men like Cooper is still astounding. His “evolution” only seems to have gotten to the point where he doesn’t want his own daughter to be hurt, but that he isn’t willing to state that he endorses or accepts marriage equality more generally — for people who aren’t part of his own family — is still quite damning. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he’s evolved at all, but let’s not overplay the news.

  18. PeteWa says:

    “laws aren’t people. Unconstitutionally bad laws don’t have a right to be defended”.
    so simple and direct.

  19. PeteWa says:

    Cooper sure is a self interested fellow.
    Not someone I would want on my side, or would trust to have my back…
    but there he is, now that he’s personally affected.
    How conservative.

  20. cole3244 says:

    what a hypocrite, ignorant narrow minded bigots are ready to crucify others until the problem comes to their doorstep then they want people to understand their predicament and be compassionate.

    bs of the first order, treat all people with respect and dignity whether you know them or not that’s what being a caring intelligent person is all about, not the attempt to demonize at every turn just to make yourself feel superior because bigots aren’t superior to anyone.

  21. BeccaM says:

    Nice to see that someone who earned boatloads of money presenting a vigorous legal defense in favor of denying civil rights to others is now rethinking his personal position on anti-gay discrimination.

    Not so nice how once again it took self-interest to make that empathic leap.

    While it is true that even the most heinous of criminals deserve the best possible legal defense, laws aren’t people. Unconstitutionally bad laws don’t have a right to be defended, particularly when the only intent of such a law is to deny civil rights to others based on animus and prejudice.

  22. dcinsider says:

    This is terrific news, though what took her so long to come out to daddy when he was beating the sh*t out of us? Did it not occur to her that perhaps daddy was not being helpful?

  23. pappyvet says:

    Evolving? That often used term whose meaning has evolved from the word hypocrisy

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