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Federal Court Awards Same Sex Couples In Texas Who Fought For Marriage Over $600k

Two same sex couples in Texas who fought to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex marriage were awarded more than $600,000 , a federal appeals court decided this week.

Mark Phariss and husband Vic Holmes and Cleopatra DeLeon and  wife Nicole Dimetman waged a years-long legal battle to do away with Texas’ anti-gay-marriage laws. On Tuesday, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals awarded their attorneys $585,470.30 in fees and $20,202.90 in other costs. 

“We’re thrilled,” said Phariss, who married Holmes in Frisco just months after the U.S. Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal nationwide. “It means that our attorneys finally get compensated for all of their hard work.  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 added

Since the Office of the Texas State Attorney General led the charge against their effort the award payment will come out of state coffers.  Spokesman Marc Rylander said the Office of Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton was “disappointed in the ruling” and considering next steps.

After the United States Supreme Court brought marriage equality to America in Obergefell v. Hodges, Attorney General  Paxton issued a formal opinion of dubious accuracy encouraging anti-gay clerks to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Paxton also noted that “numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs” if any gay couples sued to vindicate their rights. And in a Facebook post, Paxton criticized Obergefell as “a dilution of marriage” and a “lawless” ruling.

The attorney fees will go to the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld, which has pledged to use the funds for future pro bono work. 



Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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