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The state of Utah will pay attorney fees for the plaintiffs in the Evans v. Utah case, which sought spousal benefits for same-sex couples wed in the Beehive State during a 17-day window when their unions were temporarily legal.
The state will pay $95,000 to attorneys for the eight plaintiffs, according to an order signed by U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball on Monday.
The order also makes permanent, a temporary injunction Kimball issued last May, directing the state to recognize the marriages and officially closes the case.
The Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is pleased that Kimball's order is now permanent and that an agreement was reached on the fee issue, agency spokesman and legal director John Mejia said in an email to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Utah Attorney General's Office spokeswoman Missy Larsen declined to comment, saying the order speaks for itself.
More than 1,200 couples wed after the Dec. 20, 2013, ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby, which struck down the state's gay-marriage ban as unconstitutional. The decision was stayed Jan. 6 by the Supreme Court as the state appealed.
Brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of four Utah couples, the Evans case was prompted by Utah's refusal to recognize or extend spousal benefits to couples until after the state's appeal of Shelby's ruling reached a legal conclusion.
State officials had expressed concern for the legal conundrum that would ensue if Utah won the right to restore its same-sex marriage ban, nullifying the unions and requiring those benefits to be revoked.
Evans v. Utah became moot in October days after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized gay and lesbian unions in Utah and 10 other states by letting stand several circuit court rulings that declared bans on same-sex marriages unconstitutional.
According to separate filings in the appeals court and the U.S. District Court, plaintiffs attorneys in the case were seeking nearly $200,000 from the state to pay for their services. Two of those attorneys are employed with the American Civil Liberties Union, according to court records.
The attorneys had asked for over $164,000 in fees in the district court motion, and asked for another $33,000 in a motion filed with the appeals court.
The fees awarded Monday are for both the district court and appeals cases.