Utah to Spend Whopping $2 Million to Fight Marriage

The new attorney general will hire someone to fight marriage equality in the Beehive state, and legislators have approved an amount equal to what was spent fighting the Defense of Marriage Act.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall

January 01 2014 2:12 PM ET

After a federal appeals court denied Utah’s request overturn or stay the historic court decision that legalized same-sex marriage, the state's new Attorney General Sean Reyes has said he will hire outside counsel to assist the state in defending its discriminatory marriage laws and will pay a lot of money to do so, according to Think Progress's Ian Millhise.

Millhise writes that "though the state has not yet announced who it will hire to stand up for its ability to exclude gay Americans from the Constitution’s promise of equality, it has announced how much it expects to spend — $2 million in taxpayer dollars — an amount that both Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart (R) and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser (R) indicated that they are willing to appropriate."

The amount, according to Think Progress, when compared to a recent similar case: when, in 2011, former Solicitor General Paul Clement, "arguably the most skilled appellate attorney arguing cases today," was hired to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. He was given $2.3 million total and handled the DOMA case at the initial trial, in multiple appeals courts, and at the Supreme Court level, but the Utah case, writes Millhise has already passed the "most expensive and time-consuming portion of any litigation," the trial stage. It only has appeals remaining.

"To put this $2 million in perspective," Millhise writes, "Clement charged $520 per hour to defend DOMA. At the same rate, Utah’s attorneys would need to spend over 3846 hours — or 160 days working morning and night without sleep — in order to run up $2 million in legal fees."

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