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Utah Couple Stays Optimistic Amid Gay Marriage Limbo

Last week was an intense one for same-sex couples in Utah. Same-sex couples have been getting married in Utah since December 20, when a federal district judge ruled that the state ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional.

But on Wednesday, Utah governor Gary Herbert told state agencies not to recognize the marriages. The attorney general’s office said it was not sure whether the same-sex marriages that had occurred since Dec. 20 were valid.

On Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the federal government would recognize same-sex marriages performed in Utah, even if the state did not.

I think it’s inevitable that nationwide same-sex marriage is going to be legal.– Matthew Barraza

Tony Milner and Matthew Barraza are among the 1,300 couples who got married and are left in legal limbo. They join Here & Now’s Robin Young to discuss their situation.

Milner and Barraza’s case is complicated because they have a son, Jesse. Under the law in Utah, only Barraza is legally recognized as Jesse’s, parent. Milner cannot also be a parent unless the two are married.

“I have no standing in Utah if our relationship were ever to break up — I would have no standing for filing for any type of joint custody of Jesse,” Milner said. “We’ve put together our estate papers that basically spell out some basic protections, and kind of spell things out of our intentions, but even those wouldn’t hold up in court.”

However, Milner and Barraza are optimistic.

“I think that the momentum is there,” Barraza said. “I think it’s inevitable that nationwide same-sex marriage is going to be legal.”


  • Tony Milner, director of a homeless shelter in Utah.
  • Matthew Barraza,lawyer in Utah.

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