Utah drops appeal of 2nd favorable gay marriage ruling after Supreme Court action



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SALT LAKE CITY — Matthew Barraza and Tony Milner will no longer have to worry about somebody questioning Milner's relationship to their 5-year-old son during a visit to the doctor, while picking him up from a school event or in the case of an emergency.

Milner can finally become Jesse's legally recognized father now that gay marriage is legal in Utah.

On Monday, Utah state agencies were ordered to move forward with benefits such as child custody for all gay and lesbian married couples following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to reject appeals by five states trying to protect their same-sex marriage bans.

On Tuesday, Utah state officials formally dropped their appeal of a parallel lawsuit brought by Barraza and Milner and three other couples who sued the state over its decision not to recognize their marriages performed in December. A federal judge sided with the gay couples in May, and Utah appealed to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In its court filing asking for the case's dismissal, the state said the question of whether more than 1,000 gay and lesbian marriages were valid is a now moot.

In two days, two gay marriage cases that had created a tangled web of confusion in Utah have been settled.

"We're of course thrilled with all of this," Barraza said. "I was expecting it to drag on longer than it did."

Milner was in the process Tuesday of getting a new birth certificate for their son with his name added to it as a second father. They also planned to change the boy's last name to a hyphenated one so both of their last names are reflected.

The couple married in December after being together for more than 11 years. They were among the couples to marry during a three-week window in December after a federal judge in Utah overturned the state's same-sex marriage ban and before the Supreme Court granted Utah an emergency stay and brought the weddings to a halt.

About a dozen same-sex couples in Utah have married since the Supreme Court's decision Monday.

With the issue settled, there is a warm sentiment coming from Utah officials who have given up the fight to keep the same-sex marriage ban, said Marina Gomberg, who along with her wife, Elenor Heyborne, was a plaintiff in the suit.

"There's a nice feeling to know that the AG's office is not going to keep trying to fight this," Gomberg said. "That's almost equally as heartwarming as it is to know that Elenor and I can think about having a kid."

The couple, together for 10 years this December, didn't want to think about having children until they felt there was a safe and welcoming world to bring that child into. Since the Supreme Court announcement Monday, the texts, emails and phone calls have already started flooding in from friends and family starting to nudge them about when they'll start their family.

"Who knows?" she said. "Hopefully soon."

Emboldened by the rapidly changing climate, Barraza said he and Milner are already planning on adding children to their family too.

Barraza said their son is too little to really understand what the ruling means, but they said it will give him certainty and total legal protection in case something happens to one of his fathers. They think one day he'll relish in the series of events that led to this moment.

"He'll be able to look back and see that he and his family were involved in a pretty import a moment in history," Barraza said. "That will be something special."

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