Attorney Charles Cooper speaks at after closing arguments in the United States District Court proceedings challenging Proposition 8 in San Francisco, on June 16, 2010.
Jeff Chiu/AP

Prop 8 lawyer changes anti-gay stance


The Proposition 8 lawyer who previously argued to uphold California’s ban on same-sex marriage has since changed his stance on the issue, the Associated Press reported Friday.

Attorney Charles Cooper, a former opponent of same-sex unions, learned while defending the ban in court that one of his children is gay, according to an upcoming book written about the battle for marriage equality. He said his stance on the issue is evolving as he helps his stepdaughter Ashley plan her wedding with another woman, according to the AP.

“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 10 years ago,” Cooper said in the book, “Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality,” written by journalist Jo Becker.

The U.S. Supreme Court last June struck down California’s same-sex marriage ban, known as “Prop 8.” The justices also ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional because it barred federal recognition of gay rights. The twin decisions were major victories for supporters of marriage equality, and ended a long, controversial journey.

Ronan Farrow Daily, 4/18/14, 2:34 PM ET

The GOP’s gay marriage sea change

Rek LeCounte, Richard Socarides and Krystal Ball discuss the shifting positions of many conservatives on gay marriage. Plus, the panel discusses Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s remarks on the militiamen who jumped to the aid of rancher Cliven Bundy.

While defending the ban in court, Cooper once said gay unions could harm marriages between a man and a woman. An anti-gay organization had hired Cooper to defend Prop 8 after California residents passed the piece of legislation in 2008.

Several leaders from both parties, including President Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney, came forward within the past few years to publicize their change of heart on marriage rights. Former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming just last week appeared in a new television advertisement supporting marriage equality.

Becker’s book, excerpted in The New York Times Magazine this weekend, has caused a stir. She wrongfully credits only a few people – who arrived late to the gay-rights movement – with moving the issue forward, blogger Andrew Sullivan wrote earlier this week.

“The key question about this book is how on earth such a distorted and ahistorical and polemical attack on the architects of the marriage equality movement can have been written,” Sullivan, former editor of The New Republic, wrote in the post, adding that Becker ignored related events that occurred before Prop 8 in 2008. Becker wrote from one perspective, he said.

The book, as argued in a post by The New Republic, also incorrectly details the “halting, insincere nature of Obama’s long ‘personal journey’ ” supporting gay rights.

DOMA, Gay Rights, Marriage Equality and Prop 8

Prop 8 lawyer changes anti-gay stance