Lawyers in South Carolina gay marriage case want state to pay legal fees

Colleen Condon, left, and Nichols Bleckley are plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging South Carolina's gay marriage ban. Bruce Smith, AP

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The attorneys whose lawsuit helped open the way for same-sex marriage in South Carolina want a federal judge to order the state to reimburse them more than $150,000 in legal fees.

Colleen Condon, left, and Nichols Bleckley are plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging South Carolina's gay marriage ban.Bruce Smith, AP

Colleen Condon, left, and Nichols Bleckley are plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging South Carolina’s gay marriage ban.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reports the attorneys representing a Charleston couple who challenged the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage want U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel to order the attorney general to reimburse them nearly $153,000.

Judges can order losing parties to pay opponents’ fees, especially in civil rights cases. The request asks for fees for more than 446 hours of work by seven attorneys.

Gergel found South Carolina’s ban unconstitutional last month and will rule later on the issue of fees.

State Attorney General Alan Wilson fought the lawsuit Gergel ruled on that was brought by Charleston County council member Colleen Condon and her partner, Nichols Bleckley.

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Earlier the U.S. Supreme Court had refused to hear an appeal of a decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, overturning Virginia’s ban on gay marriage. That opened the way to gay marriages in other states in the circuit.

Wilson was the only attorney general in the circuit to continue fighting gay marriages, saying it is his duty to uphold the state’s constitutional ban.

Neither the 4th Circuit nor the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to Wilson’s request to stop same-sex marriage in South Carolina while he appealed.

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