Same-Sex Union Foes To Pay Up


Zoe Tillman | The National Law Journal | January 25, 2016

States on hook for $13.5M in legal fees.

<b>TAB:</b> Lawyers who challenged same-sex marriage bans have earned millions in fees. TAB: Lawyers who challenged same-sex marriage bans have earned millions in fees. Diego M. Radzinschi 

Twenty-five states that unsuccessfully defended same-sex marriage bans in federal court have agreed or been ordered by a judge to pay more than $13.5 million in legal fees to the challengers.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in U.S. v. Windsor—striking down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act—opened the floodgates to lawsuits challenging state marriage bans as unconstitutional. There was a flurry of litigation in federal courts leading up to the high court’s decision in June in Obergefell v. Hodges declaring a national right to same-sex marriage.

The legal bills have steadily come due.

Payouts to plaintiffs’ lawyers, who largely represented their clients pro bono, so far ranged from $4,500 to $1.9 million. And there’s more to come. Fee petitions are pending in four states, including a $2 million request in Tennessee. In other cases, the lawyers are still fighting over how to apply Obergefell, delaying a discussion about fees.

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