The Michigan House Appropriations Committee voted this week to transfer $2 million to the Attorney General’s office to cover litigation costs from defending Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.
The move drew some controversy from Democrats on the committee, namely state Rep. Adam Zemke (D–Ann Arbor), who filed a motion to block the transfer Wednesday. Zemke’s motion was defeated along party lines.
“I’m disappointed members of the Appropriations Committee gave their tacit support today for this waste of taxpayer money,” Zemke said in a statement. “There are dozens of more significant and necessary areas to which this money could be applied. We owe it to our constituents to use a funding allotment of this magnitude appropriately.”
The funding will come from the Office of Urban Initiatives, which the transfer document notes had available funds due to a vacancy and other non-specified savings. Andrea Bitely, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s communications director, declined comment on the litigation costs Thursday afternoon.
Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage, passed by statewide vote in 2004, was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June along with similar litigation from other states in a 5-4 decision.
The case against Michigan’s law was filed by April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse in 2012. Initially aimed at challenging Michigan’s ban on adoption by same-sex couples, the case was expanded to challenge the entire state statute in the district court. The statute was ultimately overturned by the district court, but was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit after Schuette’s office chose to appeal the decision. DeBoer and Rowse then appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court.
Schuette was one of several attorney generals, including administrations in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, who chose to pursue legal action in defending state measures blocking same-sex marriage. In multiple other states where bans were challenged, attorney generals or governors did not contest decisions to overturn them. Private interest groups often took responsibility for defending the bans instead.