Monday, December 15, 2014

How much of your taxes will NE GOP officials squander to fight gay marriage, already legal in 4 border states?

GOP House Majority Leader John Boehner hired expensive private attorneys to fight the federal Defense of Marriage Act, later largely gutted in the Supreme Court's 2013 Windsor decision. That cost you $2,300,000.
     The Obama administration, which (unlike right-wing ideologues) saw the writing on the wall and in previous decisions on DOMA in lower courts, wisely didn't bother to defend DOMA, although it did enforce it (contrary to what you may have heard on Fox News.)
     Various state attorney generals are now replicating Boehner's Vietnam strategy, even though U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals have been striking down state gay marriage bans such as Nebraska's, like bowling pins. From Matt Baume:
     Marriage is here to stay in South Carolina, but Attorney General Alan Wilson seems to be having a hard time accepting it. Even though South Carolina couples have been getting married since last month, Wilson has continued his losing battle to stop the weddings. But the longer he drags out his appeal, the more money he may wind up having to give to a coalition of gay rights groups.
     That's because the coalition has filed a petition seeking to recoup the money that they've had to spend to keep marriage legal. If the court grants their request, Wilson will have to give over $150,000 to organizations fighting for equality. Wilson really has no chance of stopping marriage at this point. He's appealing to the Fourth Circuit, which has repeatedly allowed marriages to go forward. So all he's doing now is running up a huge tab.
     And the same thing's happening in Arkansas...

Nebraska AG Jon Bruning pictured
with Eames and Barcelona chairs
Last February, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning spent an undetermined amount of Nebraska public funds filing an amicus brief in support of Utah's efforts to keep gay couples strangers to the law. Leaving aside the fact that Utah is in the 10th U.S. District Court of Appeals and Nebraska is in the 8th, the preparation and filing was a complete waste of Nebraska taxpayers' money by Bruning because (via WikiPedia):
     The U.S. District Court for the District of Utah found the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in December 2013. Its order that the state cease enforcing its ban took effect immediately. In January 2014, after stays had been denied by the District Court and the Tenth Circuit, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of the District Court's order pending consideration of the appeal by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
     In June 2014, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court, finding that Utah's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, but stayed their mandate pending petition to the Supreme Court.
     Last month, ACLU Nebraska sued the state over its ban on gay marriage (and civil unions AND domestic partnerships!), joining similar challenges in every other state in the 8th U.S. District Court of Appeals.
     Incoming GOP Governor-elect Pete Ricketts has already vowed to fight challenges to the state's ban, as has the state's current GOP governor, Dave Heineman, who, in respect of his unrelenting hostility to LGBTs, is quite a piece of work.
     What we'd like to know is how recklessly GOP officials in Nebraska plan to pander to homophobes or indulge their own bias.
     Will they take things so far that they too will be sued for reimbursement when marriage equality advocates likely win in the 8th Circuit but face dragged-out hopeless appeals by the Ricketts administration and/or new GOP Attorney General Doug Peterson?

     UPDATE: In addition to the examples cited above, you can add Minnesota Wisconsin to the roster of states in which officials who stubbornly delayed the inevitable may have to pay for their efforts to stall the civil rights of gay couples — leaving Gopher Badger State taxpayers on the hook for as much as $1.25 million because, according to a new ACLU suit, state officials decided to:
"file multiple motions, conduct discovery, assert novel arguments, and frantically try to stop marriages from occurring increased the substantive and procedural complexity of plaintiffs’ counsels’ work in the trial court and the Court of Appeals, and thus the time required to competently prosecute the action."
Will this now happen in Nebraska during a Ricketts administration?

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