The American state of Utah has been slammed for planning to spend millions in taxpayers’ money to fight the recent court ruling legalising same-sex marriage.
On Thursday, the Utah Attorney General’s office confirmed that it would be continuing its appeal of federal Judge Robert Shelby’s 20 December decision that the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
The office also revealed that it would bring in outside counsel, at taxpayer expense, to boost its legal battle against marriage equality.
Utah’s earlier legal attempts to avoid having to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples failed, but the Attorney General’s Office said that it will next file an application to the Supreme Court requesting a suspension of the ruling “as soon as possible.”
According to the Daily Herald, state officials estimate that it will cost around $2 million to hire the external attorneys.
“Defending discrimination is indefensible. Defending discrimination while spending millions of taxpayer dollars to do it is beyond explanation,” criticised Human Rights Campaign Vice President for Communications Fred Sainz.
“It is an affront to all Utahans that their hard-earned tax dollars – money that should be going into schools, roads or health programs – will instead be used to cement the state on the wrong side of history,” he added.
Utah, home to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly referred to as the Mormon church), is considered a deeply conservative state.
In 2005, more than 65% of the state’s citizens voted to define marriage as only being possible between a man and a woman in Utah. Governor Gary Herbert has accused Judge Shelby of “attempting to override the will of the people of Utah”.