Michigan pays nearly $2M in legal fees for same-sex marriage case

Posted at 2:46 PM, Oct 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-07 15:29:21-04

MICHIGAN — The state of Michigan has paid nearly $2 million in legal fees for the Hazel Park couple who were part of the landmark case that led to the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Carole Stanyar, an attorney for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, tells FOX 17 that she and attorney Dana Nessel billed the state almost $2 million in fees and have received the full amount.

The fees were for six lawyers, who each billed $350 an hour, according to court documents filed in July.

“This case was both rare and difficult because plaintiffs’ counsel were defending members of an historically unpopular minority,” Stanyar and Nessel wrote in the federal court filings.

“Although public opinion has shifted considerably in the years that this case has been pending, when filed, a decided majority of the Michigan population were opposed to marriage by same-sex couples.”

DeBoer and Rowse were married in August in Southfield.

The couple made history after winning the right to marry in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in June which ruled bans on gay marriage unconstitutional nationwide.  They sued the state in 2012 after they couldn’t jointly adopt each other’s children.

That case grew into a challenge to a Michigan constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

Federal Judge Bernard Friedman, the same judge who struck down the state’s marriage ban in 2014, performed the ceremony.