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South Carolina gay marriage plaintiffs seek almost $250K

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Two couples who challenged South Carolina’s gay marriage ban want to be reimbursed by the state almost a quarter-million dollars in attorney fees and court costs.

Same-sex couples had sued in federal courts in Charleston and Columbia for the right to be married or for South Carolina to recognize their marriages performed out of state. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that same-sex marriage is the law of the land.

In the Columbia case, Highway Patrol Trooper Katherine Bradacs and U.S. Air Force retiree Tracie Goodwin sued almost two years ago to have the state recognize their marriage performed in Washington, D.C.

In court documents filed Tuesday, attorneys for the couple seek almost $92,000 in attorney fees and court costs. The filing notes the figure includes almost $88,000 for 265 hours of time devoted to the case by three attorneys. The rest of the costs are for paralegal fees and other court expenses.

The motion said the case “presented several difficult legal questions related to a challenge on federal constitutional grounds to South Carolina’s statutory and state constitutional bans on the recognition of plaintiffs’ valid 2012 marriage.”

It noted when the case was filed in August 2013, there was only one relevant court decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act and that most of the federal court decisions and all of the favorable U.S. Court of Appeals decisions came after the couple sued in Columbia.

The motion also noted that over 200 pages of legal documents and exhibits were filed in the case.

In the Charleston case, attorneys for Colleen Condon and her partner Nichols Bleckley, who sued last year to get a marriage license, have already asked to be reimbursed $153,000 in legal costs. That figure includes 446 hours of work by seven attorneys.

Judges can order losing parties to pay opponents’ fees, especially in civil rights cases.

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