Prop. 8 Defense Attorney 'Evolves' on Marriage

Charles Cooper, the lawyer who unsuccessfully argued that California's same-sex marriage ban was constitutional, now supports marriage equality and is helping plan his stepdaughter's wedding to another woman.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

April 17 2014 1:09 PM ET

The attorney who defended California's now-defunct Proposition 8 has "evolved" to support marriage equality, according to a new book. 

Charles Cooper, who represented the supporters of the voter-approved constitutional amendment that revoked marriage equality in California, is now helping to plan his lesbian stepdaughter's wedding, reports the Associated Press in its coverage of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jo Becker's rather controversial new book, Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality.

Cooper, who argued that the federal district judge who initially ruled Prop. 8 unconstitutional should recuse himself because he was in a long-term same-sex relationship, apparently discovered that his own stepdaughter, Ashley, was gay as the landmark case worked its way through the legal system to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

"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 told Becker, according to the AP's report. 

Cooper confirmed his "evolution" to the AP in a statement today, saying that 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," Cooper told the AP. 

When arguing for Prop. 8 in federal court on behalf of the defendant-intervenors who stepped in to defend the law when two sets of state officials declined to do so, Cooper claimed that marriage equality undermined the institution of marriage and would weaken opposite-sex marriages. He spent a substantial portion of his closing arguments in June 2010 at the San Francisco federal courthouse focusing on the idea that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples was necessary for maintaining "responsible procreation."

Those arguments were ultimately unsuccessful, as the U.S. Supreme Court determined last June in 5-4 decision that the Prop. 8 proponents did not have "standing" to challenge a federal judge's decision in the case. The Supreme Court declined to rule on the constitutionality of Prop. 8, but did conclude that the ballot measure's proponents should not have been allowed to defend the case in court in the first place. The high court decision essentially affirmed District Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling that Prop. 8 was unconstitutional, and marriage equality was restored in California June 28, 2013.

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