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Politics / Issues

Bondi Not Willing to Pay Gay Marriage Plaintiffs' Costs


Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is refusing to pay the legal fees for lawyers who represented same-sex couples who tried to have the state recognize their marriages - an amount that some estimate could be as much as half a million dollars.

The Tampa Bay Times reports attorneys for some of those couples filed a motion seeking legal fees. Bondi filed a response last week saying that the state should not have to pay those fees because Florida chose to dismiss its appeal after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing same-sex marriage across the country.

Attorneys who worked to defeat the marriage ban said they have not come up with the exact amount they are owed. However, one suggested that it could be in the realm of $500,000. "It's ludicrous," said Elizabeth White, a Jacksonville civil rights attorney who helped bring one of the cases that challenged the state's gay marriage ban. "Quite frankly, the state vigorously litigated this. Now they're saying, 'We lost, but we don't want to pay.' "
She did not contest the likelihood that the state will be required to reimburse the attorneys for their work at the lower court level. A spokesman for her office declined to comment. "It really is the height of hypocrisy to argue we shouldn't be entitled to fees when they put us through this," said attorney Stephen Rosenthal who, along with the ACLU of Florida, represented a group of Miami plaintiffs in the case. "They knew full well that if they lost, that they and, frankly taxpayers, would be on the hook for paying for their unwise legal defense of an unconstitutional law," he said.

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