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Law & Justice
Amber and Rachael filed their lawsuit against Idaho in Nov. 2013. They were married Oct. 15, 2014.In November 2013, eight women -- four couples -- sued the state of Idaho over its 2006 voter-approved constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.The plaintiffs, Susan Latta and Traci Ehlers, Lori Watsen and Sharene Watsen, Shelia Robertson and Andrea Altmayer, and Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson, say Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage violates equal protection and due process guarantees.Two of the couples have been legally married in other states and two have tried to get Idaho marriage licenses and been denied.Their case went to U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale in May 2014. On May 13, eight days after Dale heard the case, she struck down Idaho's same-sex marriage ban.Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden appealed that ruling in an effort to uphold Idaho's Constitution as approved by voters in 2006.On Oct. 7, 2014, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Dale's ruling, striking down Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage. After more than a week of legal challenges, same-sex marriages began Oct. 15, 2014 in Idaho.

Idaho Pays Out $800,000+ After Losing Lawsuits

Butch Otter
Emilie Ritter Saunders
/
Boise State Public Radio

Idaho had to dip into its bank account Monday to pay for three lawsuits the state has recently lost. The price tag is more than $800,000 dollars.

Idaho lost its fight to ban gay marriage, had an abortion law overturned and failed constitutional muster on a no-camping rule in the Occupy Boise case. Each one of those losses comes with a bill for attorneys’ fees for the winning side. Lawmakers agreed Monday to pay the bills in all three cases.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter defended the cost of the lawsuits.

“I can tell you that in every case we were either defending statutes or our constitution,” Otter said.

The payouts include more than $470,000 to the winning side in the case in which a north Idaho woman faced criminal charges for having a chemically-induced abortion at home. More than $135,000 goes to lawyers for Occupy Boise, the group that built a tent city on Idaho’s Capitol Mall. The protest group sued when the state enacted new camping rules to evict the tents, saying a no-camping statute was unconstitutional. And more than $220,000 in attorney’s fees in Idaho’s losing fight against gay marriage. Idaho’s laws banning gay marriage were struck down last year. That’s on top of $401,000 Idaho has already had to pay the plaintiff’s attorneys in that case.

Otter says it’s all part of the democratic process.

“That’s why the third branch of government is there, to decide what is constitutional and what is not, and in these cases they’ve decided our law or our statute or our constitution was unconstitutional,” Otter said.

The money comes from Idaho’s Constitutional Defense Fund, which currently stands at $1.2 million dollars. Otter warned lawmakers Monday he would ask for more money to be put into the fund next year.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

Copyright 2015 Boise State Public Radio

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