June 30, 2022 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Prop 8 Defender Chuck Cooper likely pick for US Solicitor General by new AG Jeff Sessions

Maybe Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions was just really excited about being sworn in Thursday as the new US Attorney General, but his raised hand looked a lot like a “Sieg Heil” salute.  Ordinarily, such perceptions would be immediately dismissed with a quick headshake and a little shame at having even given it a thought. But the moves by Donald Trump toward authoritarianism, with loyal buddy Jeff Sessions expected to back him up, makes the swearing in all the more cringe-worthy.

Brown-nosing by Senate Republicans terrified of a critical Trump tweet also lent credence to a future of anti-everything shock and awe. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seemed delighted to pull out the obscure Rule 19 to tell popular progressive Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren to sit down and shut up as Warren read a 1986 letter by Coretta Scott King opposing Sessions’ civil rights record when he sought a federal judgeship.

“She was warned,” said McConnell of Warren. “She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

And with that, progressive women found a new meme.

There’s no shortage of legal and ethical issues and business conflicts of interest that Session may have to defend while also enforcing Trump’s screeching cacophony of executive orders and selling Trump products from the White House. In the three weeks since Trump’s inauguration, he has challenged the legitimacy of the constitutional rights of freedom of religion (Muslim ban), freedom of the press (“dishonest media”), independency of the judiciary (the third branch of government), as well as taking on the solid Republican notion of a free market economy through tweets praising or trying to intimidate specific businesses. And, since, the public still hasn’t seen Trump’s taxes, American citizens have no real understanding of how the Trump empire is intertwined with—and possibly benefiting from—his position in the Oval Office.

Where are the checks and balances?  Where’s the accountability? And to whom will Trump loyalist Jeff Sessions salute – his politically inexperienced and authoritarian-inclined boss or the American people?

“It’s deeply disturbing that Jeff Sessions, who has demonstrated a clear animus against so many Americans — including the LGBTQ community, women and people of color — could be charged with running the very system of justice designed to protect them,” said Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign,  in a press release. “The man now in charge of enforcing hate crimes protections doesn’t even think they should exist — or that LGBTQ people need them. The man now in charge of enforcing civil rights laws is a man who has a history of undermining the rights of African-American voters. Our message to Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions is this: we’re going to fight any attempt to roll back our rights with every resource that we have. We will not give one inch.” (Read HRC’s report: Jeff Sessions: A History of Anti-LGBTQ Actions)

Charles-Cooper-Solicitor-GeneralInterestingly, it appears that Sessions is likely to hire his old Alabama pal, Charles “Chuck” Cooper as US Solicitor General. Cooper, as anyone following the machinations of the landmark anti-marriage equality Prop 8 case remembers, was the attorney for the pro-Prop 8 ProtectMarriage.com. With this, Cooper and Sessions would seem to be simpatico. Sessions repeatedly co-sponsored and voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment, saying he wanted to pass an amendment to the United States Constitution outlawing marriage equality in every state. Of the 2015 Obergefell ruling, Sessions said it  “goes beyond what I consider to be the realm of reality.”

Ah, but reality is a funny thing. Not only did Cooper lose his Prop 8 battle in federal district court and then, years later, at the Supreme Court—but he changed his own mind about marriage equality after his stepdaughter Ashley Lininger came out and announced her engagement to fiancé, Casey Cole. Cooper stepped up, saying he wanted to participate in their Massachusetts June wedding.

article-2607066-1D2B0B0600000578-659_634x471

The disclosure came as a shock at the end of  New York Times investigative reporter Jo Becker’s important book on Prop 8, Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality.  “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, a view with which former Vice President Dick Cheney concurred, even as President George W. Bush publicly pushed the federal marriage amendment.

“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 Associated Press.

“We were so moved to hear of the Cooper family’s constant love and support of their own daughter, even as the Perry case was in full swing and Mr. Cooper was spending his days planning Prop 8’s defense,’ Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, defendants in the Perry Prop 8 case told AP.  “Some may find this contrast between public and private jarring, but in our opinion, loving an LGBT child unequivocally is the single most important thing any parent can do. We are overjoyed for Ashley and her fiancée, and we wish them the very best.”
PROP8TRIALKARENBut Cooper also has a deeper history that needs more examination. For instance, as the head of the Office of Legal Counsel in 1986, the possible next US Solicitor General signed an official OLC opinion arguing that employers could refuse to hire people with AIDS seeking a  job if the employer worried about contracting HIV.  A lot has changed since 1986, including non-discrimination laws prohibiting discrimination based on HIV/AIDS. But, with Trump constantly pumping up reasons to fear everything, the intensifying of HIV criminalization and with the potential broadening of “religious liberty” arguments to include refusing employment to someone deemed “sinful” by the employer—the attitude behind the 1986 opinion should be explained and scotched before it does damage.

And speaking of “religious liberties,” Cooper signed a brief on behalf of Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department supporting ultra-fundamentalist Bob Jones University in its challenge to an Internal Revenue Service policy denying tax exemptions to religious institutions that discriminate based on race. In Bob Jones University v. United States, the Greenville, South Carolina-based university said their sincerely held religious beliefs required a ban on interracial dating. The IRS said that was clear racial discrimination and took away their tax-exempt status. The case went to the US Supreme Court, which upheld the IRS policy by 8-1.

“I trust I don’t have to point out all the echoes from this case that resound to this day, and now we might have one of the amici who sided with the Reagan DOJ as solicitor general,” wrote Charles P. Pierce in Esquire. “Nothing is ever settled if they [conservative think tanks] don’t want it to be, and that includes racial progress, as we are learning again to our dismay this week. If the people who celebrated gay marriage don’t up their defense, these guys will be coming for that, too. They still haven’t gotten over Loving v. Virginia, for god’s sake.”

Related Posts

Santa Monica’s Building Bridges Art Exchange Presents: J.J. Martin’s “Role Models”

June 28, 2022

June 28, 2022

A traveling exhibit in partnership with Indianilla Cultural Center, Mexico City and Real de Catorce Cultural Center, Real de Catorce,...

Los Angeles Frenchie Reaches Record Age Milestone for Its Breed, Surpassing Recent Life Expectancy Report by Three Fold

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Learn about Rocco the French bulldog  By Susan Payne Native to Brazil, Rocco the French bulldog has reached an age...

44 Years Later, MLB’s First Openly Gay Player Glenn Burke Now Celebrated by Dodgers

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Glenn Burke celebrated at Dodgers Pride night By Susan Payne The Los Angeles Dodgers’ ninth annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night celebrated...

The Book Jewel Celebrates Pride Month as a Community

June 22, 2022

June 22, 2022

Westchester bookstore hosting series of events this month The Book Jewel in Westchester is hosting several events this month that...

A Staple Tamales Vendor’s Truck Was Stolen. Friends of the Vendor Are Asking for LGBTQ+ Support to Bring Back Her Only Source of Income

June 17, 2022

June 17, 2022

By Susan Payne For nearly 16 years, a 52-year-old single mother of two has been serving the Los Angeles LGBTQ+...

LGBT Center Welcomes Incoming CEO Joe Hollendoner

June 17, 2022

June 17, 2022

By Susan Payne In an in-person sustaining donor event last November, longtime Chief Executive Officer Lorri L. Jean for the...

Culver City Pride Ride and Rally Around the Corner

June 14, 2022

June 14, 2022

Sunday, June 26, 2022, 9 AM Pride Ride | 11 AM Rally Culver City’s second ever Pride celebration is set...

Police: Catholic High School Football Players Sexually Assault New Student

June 10, 2022

June 10, 2022

By Susan Payne Months of controversy over an alleged hazing scandal at a private high school in Santa Ana have...

Media Matters: Anti-Trans Violence Increases as TV News Coverage Drops 20%

June 10, 2022

June 10, 2022

By Susan Payne A report released by Media Matters’ LGBTQ Program found that national cable and corporate broadcast TV networks...

Oil Can Harry’s Named Historic-Cultural Monument

June 10, 2022

June 10, 2022

By Susan Payne For its historic and social significance to San Fernando Valley and the LGBTQ+ community, Oil Can Harry’s...

Music of Queen Preformed by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles at Fairmont Century Plaza

June 7, 2022

June 7, 2022

Free event June 18th at 7p.m. To celebrate PRIDE the Fairmont Century Plaza located will host an incredible performance by...

SaMo PRIDE Returns!

June 3, 2022

June 3, 2022

Month-long Pride celebration brings together community, families and LGBTQIA+ supporters of all ages SaMo PRIDE has returned! The city-wide celebration...

Rainbow on Royce Hall for Pride 2022

June 2, 2022

June 2, 2022

To mark the beginning of Pride Month on June 1, UCLA lit up one of its iconic buildings to acknowledge...

Pride Is Here. Here’s What You Can Expect in West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Los Angeles and Long Beach

June 2, 2022

June 2, 2022

By Susan Payne West Hollywood Pride: With Liberty, Diversity, Inclusion and Progress for All As California enters Pride month, WeHo...