After fighting tooth and nail to deny same-sex couples the right to get married, Florida’s attorney general is now refusing to reimburse attorneys representing the couples in the case she ultimately lost.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has objected to a motion from lawyers attempting be compensated after representing gay couples seeking to have their marriages recognized in Florida, only to have Bondi continue to appeal higher and higher up the legal system, reports the Tampa Bay Times.
According to Bondi, Florida voluntarily dismissed its last appeal after the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage the law of the land, and therefore the state shouldn’t have to pay for the lengthy appeals process it put litigants through.
“It’s ludicrous,” said Elizabeth White, a Jacksonville attorney who represented one of the couples who 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.’ “
Attorneys who worked to defeat the marriage ban said they have not come up with the exact amount they are owed, but an estimate of $500,000 was suggested.
After a federal judge in Tallahassee struck down Florida’s gay marriage ban last year, Bondi continued to fight, appealing to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. After judges there refused to stay the lower court’s decision, the state appealed again, taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Bondi never contested the fact that the state might be on the hook for the fees during the process she put the litigants through, however on Aug. 10 she wrote that opposing attorneys “are not entitled to appellate attorney’s fees.”
“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 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.”
Since making her objections known, Bondi’s office has not responded to questions as attorneys must once again return to court to face off with state’s top attorney.