Alaska Spends $100K Defending Gay Marriage Lawsuit

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The state has spent more than $103,000 to defend a lawsuit that overturned Alaska's ban on same-sex marriage, and it would spend more than triple that amount if it has to pay plaintiffs' legal costs.

Plaintiffs are seeking nearly $259,000 in legal fees from the state. If those fees are awarded, the cost to the state would total more than $360,000, Alaska Dispatch News ( reported.

Included in the state's bill is $9,600 to Washington, D.C., attorney S. Kyle Duncan, who worked with the state to appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court and 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess ruled in October that the state's ban on gay marriage approved by voters in 1998 violated the due process and equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution. After the appeals court lifted a temporary stay and the Supreme Court denied a review of the case, the state has asked an 11-judge panel of the federal appeals court for a review.

The state maintains that Burgess' ruling was an incorrect interpretation.

The state wants the appeals court to look at the Alaska case separately from its decision that overturned gay marriage in Idaho and Nevada last month.

With the ban overturned in Alaska, about 74 marriage licenses have been issued for same-sex couples so far.

Plaintiffs' attorney Allison Mendel said the costs would increase for the state if it continues to appeal the case.

Earlier this month, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The conflicting rulings could mean the situation is likely to be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court.

A same-sex couple from the state of Michigan put the question of the right to marry nationwide squarely before the Supreme Court on Monday. The appeal from Detroit-area hospital nurses April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse calls on the court to overturn the ruling.

In the Alaska case, five gay couples had asked the state to overturn the constitutional amendment that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman.

The lawsuit filed in May sought to bar enforcement of Alaska's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. It also called for barring enforcement of any state laws that refuse to recognize gay marriages legally performed in other states or countries or that prevent unmarried gay couples from marrying.

Gov. Sean Parnell, who lost his re-election bid to Bill Walker, has said he would continue the appeals process. Walker said he would not pursue costly litigation with little chance of success, even though he personally believes marriage should be between a man and a woman. Walker campaign spokeswoman Lindsay Hobson said Walker likely will review the case before deciding how to proceed after he takes office following his Dec. 1 swearing-in.

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