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Prop 8 Lawyer Plans Lesbian Daughter’s Wedding


By Matt Baume

The lawyer who led the defense of Proposition 8 now says his attitudes are evolving as he plans his daughter’s lesbian wedding. Michigan officials are trying to invalidate hundreds of couples’ marriage licenses, but now those couples are fighting back. And a Judge in Ohio has issued one of the most strongly-worded rejections of a marriage ban to date.

For decades, Charles Cooper has been one of the country’s leading legal opponents of marriage equality. And now, he’s planning his daughter’s lesbian wedding. We last saw Cooper defending Prop 8 at the US Supreme Court. And his history with marriage bans goes back to the 1990s, when he argued against the freedom to marry in Hawaii.

But now Cooper’s step-daughter, Ashley Lininger, is planning marry her fiancee Casey Cole this coming June. Cooper supports her, and says that his attitude on marriage equality is evolving. He also indicated that the Prop 8 plaintiff couples Sandy and Kris are an inspiration to his family. The revelation comes from Jo Becker’s new book, Forcing the Spring a behind the scenes look at the Prop 8 litigation.

Married couples in Michigan are fighting to keep their marriages. The couples wed a few weeks ago after a court overturned the state’s marriage ban, and before the court halted the weddings pending appeal a few hours later. Michigan is now refusing to recognize those marriages. But in response, eight couples have now filed suit against the state.

There’s been another victory in Ohio: Judge Timothy Black has ruled that four couples who sued the state can now get married. But until the case has exhausted its appeals, no other couples than those four can wed. But Black’s ruling was emphatic. He stated that Ohio’s marriage ban is “staggeringly devoid of any legitimate justification for the state’s ongoing arbitrary discrimination.”

A federal court in Oklahoma overturned a marriage ban a few months ago. Last week the 10th circuit heard oral argument in an appeal. We’ll likely have a ruling in that case and a similar case in Utah sometime this summer. And a judge in Arkansas has announced that he’ll likely issue a ruling in a marriage case two weeks from now.

In Oregon, Judge Michael J McShane will hear oral arguments on Wednesday of this week. The outcome of that case will determine whether the state moves ahead with a marriage equality ballot measure. A new study from the Williams Institute shows that marriage equality would generate $47 million for Oregon’s economy.


  • 1. Michael Grabow  |  April 22, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Pennsylvania too!

  • 2. Pat  |  April 22, 2014 at 8:42 am

    "The couples wed a few weeks ago after a court overturned the state’s marriage ban, and before the court halted the weddings pending appeal a few hours later."

    How much time did couples have to get married between the Michigan ruling and the stay? And how many couples did manage to get married in that window?

  • 3. JenniferG  |  April 23, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    We had a four-hour window on a Saturday (and only in 4 counties out of 83!!), between 9am–1pm. I filed my completed license three minutes before closing. I will fight MI with all I've got to keep my LEGAL marriage!

  • 4. Pat  |  April 23, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Wow, amazing, and congrats!
    It's especially stunning that (as Jae below mentions) 300 couples apparently managed to get married over such a short period of time and limited territory.

  • 5. Michael Grabow  |  April 24, 2014 at 6:36 am

    I feel like the clerks that decided to open and the people who volunteered to work on a saturday haven't gotten enough love.

  • 6. Jae  |  April 22, 2014 at 8:51 am

    It was only a couple hours on a Saturday after a late Friday ruling for SSM before the stay was issued and was around 300 couples

  • 7. hypatiasgirl  |  April 22, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Two things finally starting to move here in GA — A lawsuit FINALLY filed (which covers just about everything, maybe that's why we were so slow to join the dance).

    AND a community-driven day of activism coming up on May 1st! It's a gay bonanza here in ATL.

  • 8. Sean from NJ  |  April 22, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Good news. However someone should tell Indiegogo that Washington D. C. is not a state.

  • 9. Michael Grabow  |  April 23, 2014 at 6:47 am

    I see it referenced as 18 states far more often than I should.

  • 10. Larry  |  April 23, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    I think that's a fairly minor point. The amicus brief from 13 states + DC says that they will call DC a state for simplicity and so the language flows better.

    Also if we were being pedantic, the USA is made up of 46 states and 4 commonwealths (plus DC, PR, etc.)

  • 11. StraightDave  |  April 23, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    If we wanted to be really pedantic (and I'm not going to sleep well tonight for this), they are all "states" in the terminology of the US Constitution, etc. "Commonwealth" is just a part of their formal name, not a distinct type of political entity. This would be akin to calling the "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" a plantation.

    Vermont and Delaware apparently make periodic references to themselves as a "commonwealth" in their constitutions, used somewhat interchangeably with "state".….

  • 12. Christian  |  April 22, 2014 at 11:53 am

    A was kind of hoping CA would be the the first to repeal it's Marriage Amendment, seeing as how high profile Prop 8 was and all, but justice is justice no matter where it happens!

  • 13. ebohlman  |  April 22, 2014 at 11:58 am

    On Friday, Judge Richard L. Young of the US Southern District Court of Indiana issued a written order for his prior bench decision to grant a TRO against the State of Indiana requiring it to recognize the out-of-state marriage of Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler, plaintiffs in Baskin v. Bogan, because Quasney is terminally ill. It's worth reading for its citations.

  • 14. Zack12  |  April 22, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Judge Young is a Clinton appointee. This is why elections matter folks. I think only in the past couple of years have the Democrats finally begun to understand what the right did long ago, the courts matters.

  • 15. Jack  |  April 22, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    What happens when the TRO expires in 28 days? Can Indiana then revert to non-recognition of their marriage?

  • 16. Ragavendran  |  April 23, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Hopefully a preliminary injunction motion can be decided upon by then…

  • 17. Guest  |  April 23, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Didn't Cooper espouse in a federal court that it would be a dark day if the 9th agreed with the lower court's ruling? How is it that he gets away with this? How is it that Ken Mehlman capitalizes on the marriage equality victories when he was the self loathing, self righteous infection that delivered us to the waste we're continuing to clean up?

  • 18. davep  |  April 24, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Yes, that "it will be a dark day" remark was Cooper's final remark during the Prop 8 appeals hearing. It could have been acting, but he really seemed pretty angry and flustered when he said it.

    I was in the court room when this happened, and it really stuck in my mind because of the way the panel of judges reacted. A minute later, as the judges were gathering up their paperwork and standing up to leave, one of the judges responded somewhat sarcastically "Well, let's all just hope that it's not going to be a dark day". It was pretty clear that they didn't think much of his theatrics.

  • 19. Guest  |  April 23, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    The Ohio case does not involve new marriages. The four couples were previously married outside the state, and Ohio now must recognize those marriages as valid.

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