MI’s loss in gay marriage fight could cost taxpayers $2M
DETROIT — Lawyers for the Michigan couple who fought and won to legalize same-sex marriage across the nation are now seeking nearly $2 million from the state in legal fees.
In a court documents filed Saturday, attorneys for the Detroit-area nurses, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, said the case was not only novel, but extremely complex.
The request includes fees for six lawyers, who each billed $350 an hour.
Those court records also describe what both the lawyers and clients in the case endured during the three-year long court battle. Both DeBoer and Rowse could not afford to pay their lawyers. One lawyer said she sold her home to keep the case moving forward.
“This case was both rare and difficult because plaintiffs’ counsel were defending members of an historically unpopular minority,” lawyers Carole Stanyar and Dana Nessel wrote in the federal court filings.
“Although public opinion has shifted considerably in the years that this case has been pending, when filed, a decided majority of the Michigan population were opposed to marriage by same-sex couples.”
In June, Michigan’s 2004 ban on gay marriage, along with bans in several other states were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, whose office served as the face of the opposition in the case, has yet to respond to the request.
Under federal law, the couple’s attorneys are entitled to payments from taxpayers.
Now, Bernard Friedman, a federal judge in Detroit, will determine what amount of money is reasonable for the legal team to be paid.