But he voted for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as one-man-one-woman in 2006 and for an amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2004. And he was among 29 House Democrats who didn't sign the 2012 "friend of the court" brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.
Of those 29 Democrats, nine including Cooper now say they support gay marriage, according to The Hill newspaper. Better late than never.
Cooper, who has been married for 28 years, said he and his wife believe people in committed relationships should be able to marry regardless of their sexual orientation.
“Marriage is good,” Cooper said in a statement. “To prevent others who are serious about becoming a legally recognized couple seems like discrimination.”
Update: Cooper's press secretary says Cooper has made public statements in support of same-sex marriage since at least last May.
I actually wanted to clarify what The Hill reported and what you echoed in your post. Cooper has made prior public statements in support of same-sex marriage in the past, even before last week's Supreme Court arguments. For example, he made the statement below in May 2012, when a local media outlet asked him about same-sex marriage:
"Churches remain free to decide their own policies on marriage, but government should not discriminate against any of its citizens. I support civil unions and civil marriage."
He also provided that statement to the Human Rights Campaign last year when they were polling all congressional offices about this topic, and it's posted on their website.
Finally, so you've got a copy of it, here's his full statement to The Hill:
"The Supreme Court will issue rulings this summer that will become the law of the land. But I look at this from the following perspective. My wife, Martha, and I have been married for 28 years and we think that other people who are willing to enter into a committed, life-long relationship should be able to do so. Marriage is good. To prevent others who are serious about becoming a legally recognized couple seems like discrimination. Of course, churches have always had the right to refuse to perform or recognize religious marriages under their own rules. They will continue to have that right even if DOMA is overturned or Prop 8 is upheld, because churches make the rules on religious marriages."
U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05)