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Associated Press
Attorney Charles Cooper, who argued against California’s gay marriage ban, will soon celebrate his daughter’s same-sex wedding.

Gay marriage opponent involved in one, as dad

The conservative lawyer who defended California’s ban on gay marriage at the Supreme Court is at work on another project: planning his daughter’s upcoming same-sex wedding ceremony.

Charles Cooper, a former top official in the Reagan Justice Department and onetime “Republican lawyer of the year,” learned of his daughter’s sexual orientation during the legal battle over California’s Proposition 8, according to journalist Jo Becker’s soon-to-be-released book chronicling the movement to legalize same-sex marriage.

Ashley Lininger became engaged to a woman identified in the book only as Casey just after the Supreme Court accepted the Proposition 8 case in December 2012. Cooper, a noted Supreme Court practitioner, argued the case in March 2013.

The court ruled against Cooper’s clients, saying they did not have legal standing to challenge a federal district judge’s ruling that the ban was unconstitutional. Same-sex marriages then resumed in the nation’s most populous state.

In its limited ruling, the court sidestepped Cooper’s argument that there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage and that decisions about whether to allow such unions should be left to the states and voters.

Cooper told Becker that he did not think it appropriate to comment on how he would vote on the issue should he have the opportunity.

“What I will say only is that 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 is quoted as saying.

Cooper joins a list of prominent Republicans – former vice president Dick Cheney and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio among them – with children whose interests are at odds with party orthodoxy on gay marriage.

Becker wrote that Cooper and his daughter spent hours discussing the case while it was ongoing and disagreed about Cooper’s view that states had reason to enshrine the traditional definition of marriage in their constitutions and withhold the right from same-sex couples.

“I think the most upset I got was being called an ‘experiment’ that people deserved to see the outcome of before accepting,” Becker quoted Lininger as saying. “It just made me feel – alien, I guess.”

Lininger lives in Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage and now one of 17, in addition to the District of Columbia, where the unions are legal. She did not want to be interviewed for this story. Cooper said the same, although he offered a statement:

“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. … Our family and Casey’s family are looking forward to celebrating their marriage in just a few weeks.”

He added: “As Becker reports in her book, I told Ashley that what matters most is that I love her and she loves me.”

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