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Two dads and a child: Couple hope to prove they are a family
Same-sex marriage » The Utahns are two of six plaintiffs challenging the state to accept their union.

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The men turned their in-home office into a nursery. They attended every ultrasound and prepared for the baby’s arrival.

But if there’s anything the two have learned about parenting it is to expect the unexpected. Jesse was born a month early.

At a glance

The status of Utah’s same-sex marriage cases

Evans v. Utah » The lawsuit challenging the state to recognize the more than 1,000 same-sex marriages solemnized in the 17 days when such marriages were legal has been appealed by the state to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals after Judge Dale A. Kimball ordered Utah to honor gay and lesbian unions. The federal appeals court is weighing whether or not to impose a stay that would halt all movement toward granting the couples benefits until it can rule on the merits of the case.

Kitchen v. Herbert » The landmark lawsuit that toppled Utah’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages has been appealed to, and argued before, the 10th Circuit Court of appeals. A ruling is expected any day. It is likely continue on to the U.S. Supreme Court regardless of whether the court rules in favor of Utah, affirming a state’s rights to define marriage as it wishes, or the plaintiffs, backing the ruling of U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby.

Same-sex adoptions » After several state court judges granted adoptions to legally wed same-sex couples, the state has asked the Utah Supreme Court to determine whether the adoptions — and, by extension, the marriages — are legal and allowable under state law.

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As the couple celebrated their son’s arrival in the delivery room, Barraza said, they realized they were woefully unprepared.

Family members scrambled to buy them diapers and onesies. They stocked up on formula and baby wipes.

"Looking back on pictures of that first day in the hospital, we’re just wide-eyed, looking like, ‘Oh goodness, what have we gotten ourselves into?’ " Milner said. "Having a baby, it’s this entirely new language that you have to learn: putting on a diaper, getting his little arms into the sleeves of the onesie. But once you learn it, once you become a dad, you’re a part of this big club of parents. Jesse gave me that. Jesse made me a dad. What an amazing gift."

Tying the knot » Jesse was still a toddler when his dads got married for the first time.

In 2010, Barraza and Milner stood in line outside the Marriage Bureau in Washington, D.C., after the district legalized gay unions.

On the plane home, Milner said, the couple’s elation slowly waned.

They had a marriage license. They had solemnized their union. But in Utah, where voter-approved Amendment 3 banned all recognition of same-sex marriages, it wouldn’t matter.

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When U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby overturned Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage on Dec. 20, 2013, in a historic ruling that shocked the nation, the thought of gay marriage being made legal in Utah was the last thing on either of the men’s mind.

Milner was at work. Barraza was trying to finish his Christmas shopping. Jesse was at day care.

"Once we saw the news, we burned rubber to the County Building," Milner said. "Part of the reason was we knew once we were legally married in Utah, we could apply for a co-parent adoption. We said, ‘Let’s just do this, let’s just go.’ Matt didn’t even ask me if I wanted to marry him."

They were among the first in line at the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office. They beat the rush, the media and most of the officiants, who showed up to perform on-site marriages throughout the night.

They called their pastor at the United Church of Christ and quickly arranged an evening ceremony.

In front of a small collection of friends and relatives, the men lit candles symbolizing their individual selves.

A third flame represented their union, the one life they would build together. When the time came to light that candle, they held their son and set the wick afire — as a family.

Two dads » Milner is "daddy." Barraza is "papa." To Jesse, it’s that simple.

He isn’t old enough to understand the legal battle in which his family is embroiled.

But he knows he has two dads, and that not everyone does.

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