- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 7, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho’s top elected officials have approved using the state’s Constitutional Defense Fund to pay $70,000 in legal fees to the U.S. Navy Veteran who successfully fought for permission to be buried with the ashes of her late wife in a state veterans cemetery.

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden unanimously voted Wednesday to use the fund to cover the costs. The fund’s balance is now roughly $320,000.

Madelynn Taylor had previously been denied having her ashes interred with Jean Mixner because of Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage. The Boise-based Idaho State Veterans Cemetery is owned and operated by the state.

However, the ban was lifted Oct. 15 after courts determined it was unconstitutional. A federal court later granted Taylor’s request for a permanent injunction barring the state from ever preventing the two from being interred together.

“We lost the case, and they were awarded costs and fees, so we have to pay them,” Otter said. “We’ve got more of those coming.”

The Constitutional Defense Fund was created in 1995 to defend the state’s legal rights against the federal government.

The fund was originally allocated $1 million, but it was slowly depleted after being used to pay for legal expenses for Idaho’s 1990s battles over accepting nuclear waste shipments, as well as settlements with Planned Parenthood in 2008, according to a list of the fund’s expenditures.

The fund is depleting as Idaho faces pending attorney bills from recently failed legal battles. Earlier this year, a federal judge overturned the state’s law banning secret filming of animal abuse at agricultural facilities. Meanwhile, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe is petitioning the Idaho Supreme Court for the state to pay $95,000 in attorney fees in a lawsuit that resulted in a federal ruling banning lucrative instant horse racing betting machines.

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