The attorney who represented proponents of California’s Proposition 8 in U.S. District Court lectured Brigham Young University law students at a J. Reuben Clark Law School forum sponsored by the BYU chapter of the Federalist Society.
Charles J. Cooper’s argument for upholding Prop 8 was that marriage is, by definition, a union between a man and a woman.
“A marriage between a man and a woman is not the core of the institution, it defines the institution,” he said.
Cooper’s testimony before U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker mirrored his talk at BYU. Walker decided against Prop 8 proponents, saying that it infringes on gay and lesbian couples’ 14th amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution.
Cooper said that marriage benefits society because the union produces children.
“Child-rearing and procreation is important in matrimony,” Cooper said. “but also to nature and society.”
Cooper said same-sex marriage could harm heterosexual couples in the long run.
“The question is not can a same-sex couple raise a child as well as a heterosexual couple,” Cooper said. “It is about the long-term effects, including contributions to society.”
In a question-and-answer period following his presentation, Cooper was asked how same-sex marriage would harm heterosexual marriage. According to BYU student Marshall Thompson, his reply was, “Recognizing homosexual marriage would not harm heterosexual marriage at all,” and that it was never a point he felt he needed to prove in court.
In a document written to the District Court, Cooper cited statistics from the Netherlands, which instituted same-sex marriage in 2001, showing trends of fewer marriages, more single-parent families, more unmarried parents raising children and more opposite-sex couples choosing an alternative status over marriage.
He also argued in the memorandum that same-sex marriage de-institutionalizes marriage. Allowing same-sex marriage weakens the social norms with respect to marriage, and shifts the focus from fulfilling socially valuable roles such as parent and spouse to “personal choice and self-development,” his legal team wrote.