According to a new book chronicling the battle over marriage equality, the lead lawyer defending California’s Proposition 8 before the Supreme Court discovered his daughter was engaged to a woman after he took the case and is now helping to plan her wedding. The book, Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality, shows how the man once voted the Republican lawyer of the year had a complete change of heart.
In the history of marriage equality “evolution,” Charles Cooper may have the strangest journey. Cooper was hired by ProtectMarriage.com, the group that put Prop 8 on the ballot, to defend the initiative. He had impeccable conservative credentials, having clerked for Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist and served in the Reagan Justice Department.
But from the start, Cooper always seemed a bit ambivalent about his client. Most famously, when asked by California Judge Vaughn Walker what harm it would do to the state’s intention of encouraging heterosexual couples to wed if same-sex couples could too, Cooper replied, “Your honor, my answer is, I don’t know. I don’t know.” Cooper also reveals in the book that he especially admired the lesbian couple who challenged Prop 8, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier.
In December 2012, Ashley Lininger, Cooper’s step-daughter (whom he refers to as his daughter), told her dad that she was engaged to be married to a woman. Three months later, Cooper appeared before the Supreme Court to argue the case for Prop 8.
Unlike his legal opponents, Ted Olsen and David Boies, Cooper was always media shy about the case. He remains so, only issue a statement about In a statement issued this week, Cooper said, “My family is typical of families all across America. We love each other; we stand up for each other; and we pray for, and rejoice in, each other’s happiness. 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.”
Message to the anti-marriage right: You know your cause is lost when you lose your lead attorney to the other side.
Photo credit: Cooper & Kirk PLLC