We knew there would be complications to work out as same-sex marriage laws were passed around the country, but nobody saw this one coming.
Nino Esposito and Roland “Drew” Bosee want to get married. And when Pennsylvania became the 19th state to legalize same-sex marriage last year, the couple, who’ve been together for more than 40 years, took their $80 to the courthouse to make their love official. But they were turned away sans certificate. Here’s the hitch: Esposito is Bosee’s father.
Before you freak out, there’s more to this story. The 78-year-old legally adopted his 68-year-old partner several years ago as a way to get around estate and tax laws that barred unmarried partners from inheriting. This type of adult adoption was not rare in the gay community before marriage laws passed, as it was one way to make sure their loved ones got all the benefits afforded to family members after one of them died.
“We never thought we’d see the day that same-sex marriage would be legal,” Esposito explained to CNN. “The adoption gave us the most legitimate thing available to us,” Bosee added.
More: Why marriage equality isn’t enough for same-sex parents
So why not just get the adoption annulled? Judge Lawrence J. O’Toole, of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, said that while he was sympathetic to the couple’s plight, under the law he couldn’t void the adoption unless it was a case of fraud. He ruled against their petition but added that he hoped a higher court would sort it out in their favor.
Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is taking up their case with Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “LGBT couples should have the right to obtain a marriage license, no matter the state or jurisdiction in which they reside,” Casey wrote. “In adoption cases such as these, the law has changed dramatically since the adoptions were first carried out.”
As the strange case moves slowly through the legal system, Esposito and Bosee remain father and son, and hundreds of other couples in the same situation await the results.