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Utah seeks outside counsel to defend same-sex marriage ban; defense may cost $2 million

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The state of Utah may be about to spend $2 million in its defense of its anti-gay marriage laws, according to reports. As EqualityOnTrial noted last week, state officials have said they will involve outside counsel in the case. The move to pass the case off to outside lawyers comes after many LGBT activists and some legal observers have harshly criticized the state’s performance so far.

State Republicans are on board with the decision:

“We need the best we can get,” House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, said after a House GOP leadership meeting Friday with newly named Attorney General Sean Reyes. “He’s coming into this, frankly, in the middle.”

Reyes laid out his case for bringing in help to seek a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court of last Friday’s ruling striking down Amendment 3, a decision resulting in same-sex marriage being allowed in Utah.

He has said he also intends to use the outside counsel to bolster the state’s appeal of U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby’s ruling to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and possibly to the Supreme Court.

After hearing Reyes’ strategy and the projected cost, Lockhart said the House Republican majority leadership “felt comfortable telling him, ‘Move forward with what you think is in the best interest of the state.’ “

As of this writing, there’s no word on who the state could hire.

In a similar situation, Republicans in the US House of Representatives hired well-known and highly respected attorney Paul Clement to handle the defense of Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in federal court. Clement made arguments in defense of the law in the Supreme Court, but they ultimately ruled against him in United States v. Windsor. DOMA’s defense cost over $3 million.

The Utah case is already headed to the Supreme Court, at least in a preliminary stage: Utah plans to ask Justice Sotomayor for a stay of the district court decision, while the case is on appeal to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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  • 1. Michelle Evans  |  December 30, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Hopefully Utah will be "smart" enough to hire the exact same people who defended Prop 8 and DOMA all the way to the Supreme Court, thus ensuring that our equality side will again win once it arrives before the Supremes.

  • 2. Richard Weatherwax  |  December 30, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Maybe Reyes will bring in somebody smart enough to tell him not to appeal.

  • 3. Straight Dave  |  December 30, 2013 at 11:05 am

    He's not going to be asking them that question. He already stated that he thinks the people of UT deserve to have the case argued in court, based on their earlier vote of approval. He cleverly avoided any comment on the merits. There's plenty of lawyers out there willing to accept Utah's money on a lost cause, even if they know it's a lost cause.

  • 4. sfbob  |  December 30, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Any lawyer does doesn't think Utah's fighting a losing battle is a lawyer whose services are not worth paying for.

  • 5. davep  |  December 30, 2013 at 10:43 am

    The article mentions the Repubs defending DOMA section 3. Can we hear some more about that? I wasn't aware that there was currently a federal trial about DOMA section 3.

  • 6. davep  |  December 30, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Doh. Never mind. I didn't read that correctly. I though it was referring to some new trial. Need more coffee.

  • 7. Rakihi  |  December 30, 2013 at 10:59 am

    The GOP's perversity in repeatedly forcing gay Americans to help fund lawyers who then argue against their human rights is disgusting.

  • 8. Matthew N  |  December 30, 2013 at 11:02 am

    They should hire Paul Clement so he can lose yet another marriage case.

  • 9. Carol  |  December 30, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    He'll give them a deal, because he's already done the work. A $3M job for just $2M.

  • 10. jamesa  |  December 30, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Hey, I can give Utah the exact same result for the low, low price of one million dollars!

  • 11. Bruno71  |  December 30, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Start at 1.75 mil. They just may be naive enough not to bargain.

  • 12. Equality On TrialTenth Ci&hellip  |  December 30, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    […] state of Utah is expected to ask the United States Supreme Court for a stay of the lower court’s ruling, though the request, which will be made initially to […]

  • 13. Does the Mormon Tabernacl&hellip  |  February 14, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    […] roll back marriage equality, calling it chaos 6, including eventually spending two million dollars 7 to appeal to the US Supreme Court […]

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