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Lawyer Who Defended California’s Proposition 8 Looking Forward To His Daughter’s Lesbian Wedding

The lawyer who defended California’s Proposition 8 before the Supreme Court is having what some are calling a change of heart:

The lawyer who argued before the Supreme Court in favor of upholding California’s ban on gay marriage learned while he was handling the case that one of his children is gay and now is helping her plan her wedding with another woman.

Attorney Charles Cooper says his view of same-sex marriage is evolving after having argued in court that gay unions could undermine marriages between a man and a woman.

The revelation is an unexpected footnote in the years-long debate over Proposition 8, the California measure struck down by the Supreme Court last year. It is also offers a glimpse, through the eyes of one family, of the country’s rapidly shifting opinions of gay marriage, with most public polls now showing majorities in favor of allowing the unions.

Cooper learned that his stepdaughter Ashley was gay as the Proposition 8 case wound its way through appellate court, according to a forthcoming book about the lengthy legal battle. And with the Supreme Court ruling now behind him, Cooper cast his personal opinion on gay marriage as an evolving process.

“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,” Cooper said in journalist Jo Becker’s book “Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality.”

Cooper’s words are reminiscent of the language President Barack Obama used throughout his first term to describe his “evolving” views on gay marriage. In 2012, Obama announced publicly that he did, in fact, support the rights of same-sex couples to marry.

(…)

In June, Cooper’s daughter plans to marry her partner in Massachusetts, one of 17 states plus the District of Columbia where same-sex marriage is legal. In a statement to The Associated Press, Cooper said his family “is typical of families all across America.”

“My daughter Ashley’s path in life has led her to happiness with a lovely young woman named Casey, and our family and Casey’s family are looking forward to celebrating their marriage in just a few weeks,” he said.

Cooper’s prominence in a landmark case on same-sex marriage makes this interesting, of course, but it is really just another reminder that one of the best arguments against discrimination of any kind comes when you actually get to know people different from you. When those people are already someone you love like a son or daughter, it is probably an even more effective teaching device. Congratulations to the Cooper family.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    Look who’s evolving now.
    Kinda sucks being stuck in the 19th century, I guess.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  2. MikeSJ says:

    It’s funny that these conservatives can only change their minds when it impacts them personally.

    They appear to have no empathy whatsoever for anyone else – until it affects them it’s a non-issue.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 0

  3. ernieyeball says:

    My ex wife was in Law School when I met her.
    She told me that she was taught to make arguments for both prosecution and defense in criminal matters and plaintiff and defense in civil cases.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. anjin-san says:

    one of the best arguments against discrimination of any kind comes when you actually get to know people different from you.

    I am thinking that “discrimination is fundamentally wrong and un-American” is a better argument. It should be the only one we need.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  5. MarkedMan says:

    They say ‘A conservative is a liberal that’s been mugged’ and there’s some truth in that. But you can also say ‘A liberal is a conservative that has a sick kid’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  6. Grewgills says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I’ve been mugged and remain liberal by US standards.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  7. James Pearce says:

    “The lawyer who argued before the Supreme Court in favor of upholding California’s ban on gay marriage learned while he was handling the case that one of his children is gay and now is helping her plan her wedding with another woman.”

    Sell the movie rights now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  8. Barry says:

    @ernieyeball: “My ex wife was in Law School when I met her.
    She told me that she was taught to make arguments for both prosecution and defense in criminal matters and plaintiff and defense in civil cases.”

    Let’s say that somebody breaks your kid’s legs, and says ‘nothing personal, just business’.

    You probably won’t care. I would not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. michael reynolds says:

    Jesus what a maroon.

    But you know what? Andrew Sullivan’s right: converts welcome, no witch hunts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  10. ernieyeball says:

    @Barry: You probably won’t care.

    ????
    (I don’t have any kids.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. Rafer Janders says:

    but it is really just another reminder that one of the best arguments against discrimination of any kind comes when you actually get to know people different from you. When those people are already someone you love like a son or daughter, it is probably an even more effective teaching device.

    Screw Cooper. Did he imagine that he was the only one with a daughter that he loved? That no one else had a lesbian child? Selfish jerk.

    Some people don’t need to have a son or daughter suffer from discrimination to know that it’s wrong — they’re able to use ordinary human empathy and imagination.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  12. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Andrew Sullivan’s right: converts welcome, no witch hunts.

    Andrew Sullivan’s the same sort of conservative who champions an issue when it affects him most. Were he not gay himself, he wouldn’t have come out in favor of gay marriage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  13. Barry says:

    @Rafer Janders: “Andrew Sullivan’s the same sort of conservative who champions an issue when it affects him most. Were he not gay himself, he wouldn’t have come out in favor of gay marriage. ”

    The last time I heard from Andrew Sullivan, he was making a big case out of Eich losing his job. The time before that, in the Long Long Ago (November), he was crowing about helping to get Alec Baldwin fired.

    The man has some redeeming features, but he’s deeply, deeply dishonest.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  14. KM says:

    Andrew Sullivan’s right: converts welcome, no witch hunts.

    Agreed, all are welcome to the right side of justice. But we reserve the right to say “I told you so” to their faces and point out (in public) that they needed to have it made personal before they could emphasize with their fellow man. Trust me, that’s something you need to know about a person since I doubt this is the only issue on which they have that opinion. The public deserves to know who will throw them under the bus willingly unless they happen to personally give a damn about you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  15. stonetools says:

    `@michael reynolds:

    I agree that converts are welcome, but it does grate on you to realize that the reason for coversionb isn’t empathy with the wronged, or a commitment to the universal good, but self-interest and a concern for themselves and their loved ones. Oh well, makes him human, I guess.
    I wonder whether conservatives are going to experience similar conversions when one of their loves ones gets health insurance due to the ACA. Are they going to be happy that their loved one now has insurance and start supporting “Obamacare”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. LaurenceB says:

    This phenomenon extends quite nicely to the immigration debate. The majority of legal hispanic immigrants have at least one or two friends or family who are illegal. So they see them as people. Even conservative Hispanics (Mrs. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Geraldo Rivera, Raul Labrador, etc.) sometimes find themselves straining to stomach the white-hot demonization of illegal immigrants from the Republican Party base.

    I used to think that some day maybe the Republican Party would realize that it is possible to make coherent, valid arguments in opposition to Immigration Reform without demonizing illegal immigrants, but they seem totally incapable of doing it. Their base just won’t allow it, and I think I can guess why. This is one of the reasons I am proud to call myself a former Republican. And, in a nutshell, that’s the Latino problem that the Republican Party has.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  17. Anderson says:

    @Rafer Janders: well, I’m not aware that Sully’s ever been waterboarded.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. Matt Bernius says:

    @LaurenceB:
    Its not just the Latino problem, It’s the minority problem that the Republicans have.

    The issue is that the country is going through a demographic sea change, and those changes (coupled with major shifts in the global economy and technology) are altering the direction of the country.

    As the Republican party began to increasingly became a reactionary party versus a conservative party, they increasingly became tied to protecting an imagined “traditional US culture” that is unsustainable in the long term.

    Shifting away from that vision would require abandoning a large portion of the party’s existing base. Since they don’t want to do that *yet*, their best hope is that enough socially progressive young republicans are being minted that the party can gradually move back to center over the next decade.

    2016 will be an interesting year. Depending on who get’s the nomination, I suspect we’re going to see the last hurrah of the Social Con (Anti-) wing of the party for a while or we’ll see the Republicans tack to the center with a transformative candidate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. michael reynolds says:

    @stonetools:

    Yeah, it grates on me. To me conservatives are defined by their utter lack of imagination, which leads to their inability to experience empathy. They are greedy, selfish, hateful toward anyone of a different tribe. They are, in short, aszholes.

    But you can’t build a consensus without at least a few aszholes. And we have a fair number on our side as well. They tend not to be narcissists but smug, stick-up-the-butt neo-puritans, but still aszholes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0