Texas is on the hook for more than $600,000 in fees associated with its failed fight to uphold the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Affirming a district court ruling on the matter, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the state of Texas Tuesday to doll out $585,470.30 in fees and $20,202.90 in other costs to Mark Phariss and husband Vic Holmes and Cleopatra DeLeon and wife Nicole Dimetman.
The fees stem from a lawsuit filed years ago by the couples, who challenged the constitutionality of the state’s now-defunct stance on marriage equality.
The couples were successful at the district court level, where a San Antonio judge determined the state’s ban was unconstitutional because it “violates plaintiffs’ equal protection and due process rights.”
Anticipating an appeal, the ruling was stayed and the ban was left in place, with the suit making its way to the Fifth Circuit in early 2015. A three-judge panel seemed poise to rule in favor of the couples, but the state eventually conceded the case in June 2015 upon the passage of marriage equality by the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell vs. Hodges.
“We’re thrilled,” Phariss told Dallas News. “It means that our attorneys finally get compensated for all of their hard work.”
The funds will come out of state coffers. A spokesperson for Attorney General Ken Paxton, who led the charge against the couples, said the office was “disappointed in the ruling” and considering next steps.
“It’s kind of a little bit sad that it was a waste of taxpayer dollars that could have gone to other things than to keep two people who love each other from getting married,” Phariss concluded.