Lawmakers dispute possible $1M defense of gay marriage ban

Lawmakers dispute possible $1M defense of gay marriage ban

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by Karen Zatkulak

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KTVB.COM

Posted on February 27, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 28 at 8:15 AM

BOISE -- There's controversy in Idaho's Capitol over the appropriation of a million dollars.

The money was transferred into a fund to defend our constitution, but one lawmaker says it could be used to defend a law banning same sex marriages.

It's a story that's drawn plenty of feedback and frustration, but chairs with the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee say the suggestion is inaccurate.

Rep. Shirley Ringo stands by her view that the money could be used to better serve Idahoans.

"It was hard for me to see to put away a million dollars to deal with decisions we probably shouldn't have made in the first place," said Rep. Ringo.

She questions the $1 million recently transferred to the constitutional defense fund, saying it could be used in a legal battle over's Idaho law banning same sex marriage.

Ringo says it's a law that shouldn't have passed in the first place.

"In general I feel cranky about our nature to play it fast and loose in terms of passing laws we know will have some sort of challenge simply because it's something some people feel strongly about," said Ringo.

Rep. Ringo admits she's not certain that the money would be used over this issue, but says it's a topic that could draw a legal fight.

"I think more and more people are seeing the lack of fairness associated with the way people have viewed this in the past, and I think that mood is changing," said Rep. Ringo.

But JFAC chair Rep. Maxine Bell says that's not the reason behind the money transfer.

"That is not accurate. If the same sex marriage lawsuit is an attack on the one man one woman constitutional amendment, then that possibly could be used there," said Rep. Maxine Bell.

Rep. Bell says the fund has been in place since 1990, and used rarely for issues like water rights and endangered species.

She says there was no indication the money was marked for a legal defense on the topic of same sex marriage.

"When we were given this budget January 7th, there as no designation, and there has not been any since," said Rep. Ball.

Both the Senate and the House would have to approve the budget before the Governor could sign off on it.

The constitutional defense fund wasn't used at all last year.

Sen. Dean Cameron says its goal is to be used to defend our citizens from threats to our constitution that occur while legislators are out of session.

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