April 30, 2019 at 5:52 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Senate confirms former Log Cabin chief to State Dept. post
R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans, Republican Party, gay news, Washington Blade
The Senate confirmed R. Clarke Cooper to a senior State Department position. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

With little opposition, the U.S. Senate confirmed on Tuesday a former head of Log Cabin Republicans instrumental in finding Republican votes to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to a high-ranking State Department position.

R. Clarke Cooper, who’s gay, was confirmed as assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs by a vote of 90-8 nearly a full year after President Trump nominated him in June 2018.

The position of assistant of secretary of state for political-military affairs is charged with linking the Defense Department with the State Department in areas such as international security, military operations and defense strategy.

According to Inside Defense, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) placed a hold on Cooper’s nomination in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee over objections to the Trump administration allowing organizations to post blueprints for 3D-printed guns online. It wasn’t immediately clear why Markey lifted his hold on the nomination to allow a vote.

The senators who voted against Cooper were Markey as well as Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Not voting were Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah).

Many of the senators are either 2020 presidential hopefuls or have a history of voting against Trump nominees based on general objections to the president, who has built a long anti-LGBT record in the White House, and his administration.

Under Cooper’s tenure at Log Cabin between 2010 and 2012, the organization oversaw a lawsuit challenging “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and assisted with legislative effort to convince Republicans to vote to repeal the military’s gay ban. Under Cooper’s leadership, Log Cabin also endorsed Mitt Romney for president in 2012 after he met with Cooper and gay former Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe at a Virginia farmhouse.

Cooper most recently served as director of intelligence planning for Joint Special Operations Command’s Joint Inter-Agency Task Force in the National Capital Region. 

A combat veteran and member of the U.S. Army Reserve, Cooper’s active duty assignments include tours with United States Africa Command, Special Operations Command Africa, Joint Special Operations Task Force Trans-Sahara, and Special Operations Command Central, according to his bio.

Additionally, Cooper served in the Bush administration in the State Department as U.S. Alternate Representative to the U.N. Security Council, U.S. Delegate to U.N. Budget Committee, senior advisor in Near Eastern Affairs Bureau and advisor at U.S. Embassy-Baghdad from 2005 to 2006.

Cooper is now one of a handful of openly gay officials in the Trump administration. The most high-ranking is U.S. ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who recently announced an initiative to decriminalize homosexuality in the more than 70 countries where it’s illegal.

Grenell also made headlines for recently calling Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s criticisms of Mike Pence as anti-gay a “hate hoax” despite the vice president’s long anti-LGBT record.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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