Gay marriage challenges cost Indiana $1.4M in attorney fees

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The state of Indiana had to pay more than $1.4 million in fees to plaintiffs' attorneys in its unsuccessful attempt to maintain a ban on same-sex marriages, the attorney general's office says.

Same-sex marriage became legal in Indiana in October when the Supreme Court of the United States decided to let stand two federal court rulings that said the state's ban and refusal to recognize such marriages performed elsewhere was unconstitutional. That resolved the five lawsuits in favor of the plaintiffs, leaving the state of Indiana to foot the bill for their legal costs.

The most costly case at $650,000 involved Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney, a Munster couple who fought to have their marriage recognized as Quasney was dying of cancer, The Indianapolis Star reported. That became the lead case in Indiana on same-sex marriage. Quasney died at age 38 in February after the couple won in court.

A federal judge in April 2014 granted the couple's emergency request to have their marriage recognized. Judge Richard Young ruled in June that the state's gay marriage ban was unconstitutional, sending hundreds of same-sex couples across the state to county clerks' offices for impromptu weddings. The state appealed Young's ruling, and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay that put each of those marriages in limbo. But Quasney and Sandler's union was still recognized, and for a time they remained the only legally married same-sex couple in the state.

The other four cases where Indiana had to pay the plaintiff attorney fees were:

— The American Civil Liberties Union was part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of six couples, a widow and two children. The widow, Midori Fujii, of Hamilton County, was not allowed to make funeral decisions after her wife, Kris Brittain, died, because Indiana did not recognize their same-sex marriage, which had been perfomed in California. That also created an inheritance tax issue. In this case, Indiana paid about $196,000 in fees.

— Four public servants, police officers and a fire battalion chief sued after the state would not recognize their same-sex spouses as pension beneficiaries. This case, filed by Indiana Equality Action, cost the state about $336,000 in fees.

—Four same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit for the legal right to marry or have their out-of-state marriages recognized. The case was brought against Gov. Mike Pence but was dismissed after a question was raised over whether he was the proper defendant to be named, "because the Governor cannot remedy the harms alleged by them," the court noted. The state paid $45,000 in fees for this case.

— Another lawsuit was filed by two same-sex couples seeking to have their out-of-state marriages recognized in Indiana. The state paid $195,000 in fees.

In addition, the attorney general's office said it spent about $7,000 on printing, filing fees and other related costs in the lead case.

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