Florida has finally legalized driving while gay. Bills to discriminate against gay couples are rapidly multiplying in Texas. And multiple states are still wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to reverse marriage equality.
Last fall, Scott and Daniel Wall-DeSousa got new driver's licenses after they married in New York and hyphenated their name. But the state of Florida said that it wouldn't recognize their new names -- even though it was a legal name change -- and canceled the licenses, which effectively meant that they couldn't drive. But now that couples can marry in Florida, the Wall-DeSousas finally have their new licenses. So, there you go, Florida, you wasted everyone's time and accomplished nothing, congratulations.
Last week I reported on a proposed bill in Texas that would force state officials to disobey federal courts that uphold marriage equality. Now Texas has two more proposed anti-gay laws. One would give businesses permission to deny service to LGBTs. The other would prevent towns from passing nondiscrimination laws, and overturn any laws that already exist. Anti-gay activists know that they're about to lose on marriage, and so this is going to be their response: passing laws that let them take away our jobs, or our homes, our access to education and basic services. A proposed bill in Virginia would even let hospitals turn away gay patients. We're going to see a lot more of these in the next year, as a form of dangerous, petty backlash against marriage equality.
Of course, there's still one big wild card when it comes to national marriage equality: the Supreme Court. Late last week they announced that they'll take up four marriage cases. We'll probably see oral argument in late April, and a decision around the end of June. There's no way to know how they'll rule. If it's in our favor, great -- we'll have national marriage equality this year. If they rule against us, then that means several more years of work to overturn the last few marriage bans.
But in the mean time, we keep racking up victories at lower courts. A South Dakota judge has ruled against that state's marriage ban. A judge in Michigan ruled last week that the state must honor the 300 licenses that it issued during a one-day window last year. A judge in Kentucky has granted the state's first divorce for a gay couples, which is a little depressing but that's just how it goes sometimes. And the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to reconsider marriage cases in Idaho and Nevada, despite the continuing attempts by state officials to halt marriages.
Those Idaho and Nevada cases should have been over long ago. And by dragging them out this long, the states are running up huge legal bills. The current tally in Idaho is now close to a half million dollars -- that means they've blown about a quarter of the state's entire budget for Constitutional defense cases. And they're not the only state wasting hundreds of thousands on marriage litigation. The legal bill in Wisconsin could top $1.2 million. In West Virginia, parties have run up $350,000 in fees. Oregon and Alaska are both $260,000 apiece.
And just like in Florida, these states are accomplishing nothing, other than making work for lawyers. At this point, anti-gay legislators seem to be mostly focused on just making life inconvenient for gay couples, whether it's by delaying the start of marriage, removing other legal protections, or creating areas where we can't do business. That's their reaction to marriage equality -- if they can't stop us from getting married, they're just going to annoy us instead. Well, it's working. They're annoying. Good job.