Federal judge orders Utah to recognize gay marriages, award benefits

Federal judge orders Utah to recognize gay marriages, award benefits

When Matthew Barraza and Tony Milner’s 5-year-old son starts kindergarten next fall, both of his fathers could finally be recognized as his legal parents.

A federal judge on Monday ordered Utah officials to recognize more than 1,000 same-sex marriages that took place in the state before the U.S. Supreme Court issued an emergency stay. If the rulings stands after a 21-day hold the judge placed on it, the state would be required to lift its freeze on benefits requested by gay couples.

Barraza and Milner married in December and have a pending request to have Milner recognized as a legal parent of their son, Jesse, who currently is only Barraza’s son under the law. …

The gay and lesbian couples married after a federal judge overturned Utah’s same-sex marriage ban Dec. 20. Those weddings came to a halt Jan. 6 when the Supreme Court granted the stay.

Utah officials argued that they had no choice but to hold off on benefits until an appeals court rules on same-sex marriage.

U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball disagreed in his ruling Monday, saying Utah’s decision to freeze all benefits put the couples in an unacceptable legal limbo regarding adoptions, child care and custody, medical decisions and inheritance, among other things.

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