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Utah to pay $95,000 in legal fees over refusal to recognize same-sex marriages

Utah to pay $95,000 in legal fees over refusal to recognize same-sex marriages

 SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has ordered the state of Utah to pay $95,000 to cover attorney’s fees for four couples who filed a lawsuit after the state refused to provide marriage benefits and legal recognition of married, same-sex couples.

Utah-flagThe plaintiffs were among 1,200 couples who married following a Dec. 20, 2013, ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby, which struck down the state’s gay marriage ban as unconstitutional.

The decision was stayed Jan. 6 by the U.S. Supreme Court as the state appealed.

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The challenge, brought by the ACLU on behalf of the couples, was prompted by Utah’s refusal to recognize or extend spousal benefits to couples until after the state’s appeal of Shelby’s ruling reached a legal conclusion.

In May, U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ruled that Utah must recognize those marriages, but the U.S. Supreme Court stayed that decision as well.

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In October, when the Supreme Court declined to hear Utah’s appeal, marriage for same-sex couples once again became legal in the state.

According to separate filings in the appeals court and the U.S. District Court, plaintiffs attorneys in the case were seeking nearly $200,000 from the state to pay for their services, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The order, signed by Kimball on Monday, also makes permanent, the temporary injunction he issued in May, directing the state to recognize the marriages and officially closes the case.

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