A same-sex Pennsylvania couple who are technically father and son are now trying to annul the arrangement in order to legally marry.
Nino Esposito adopted his partner Roland “Drew” Bosee in 2012 after 40 years of being a couple, because they thought they would never be able to marry.
Some same-sex couples used adoption laws as a way to gain legal recognition as a family along with related benefits such as inheritance and hospital visitation rights.
However with the Supreme Court decision in May which allowed for same-sex marriages, the couple is now trying to undo the adoption in order to legally marry.
Speaking to CNN, Esposito said he never thought that he and his partner would be able to see the day that they could be properly married.
“We never thought we’d see the day” said Esposito, 78.
The adoption “gave us the most legitimate thing available to us” at the time, said Bosee, 68.
However Judge Lawrence J. O’Toole, of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, ruled against the couple.
He said the primary purpose of the adoption was to reduce the Pennsylvania inheritance tax payable upon the death of one of the men from 15% to 4%, “as the two men would now be in a parent-child relationship instead of a third party relationship.”
O’Toole said he was “sensitive to the situation” but noted that despite the fact Esposito and Bosee desire to marry, “they cannot do so because they are legally father and son.”
“This Court welcomes direction from our appellate courts in handling parallel cases,” O’Toole wrote.
“We don’t believe the Pennsylvania judge who refused to annul this adoption was unsympathetic,” said Witold Walczak, the Legal Director of the ACLU Pennsylvania, “he simply felt that the legal path to doing so should be forged by an appellate court.”
“The ACLU is hopeful that the Superior Court will apply established legal principles to allow annulment of adoptions by same-sex couples who that they can finally partake of their constitutional right to marry,” Walczak said.
Attorneys Mikhail Pappas and Andrew Gross, who represent Esposito and Bosee, say they would welcome help from the Justice Department to make clear their clients have a civil right at issue in the case.
In court papers, the attorneys argued: “The personal and social benefits of marriage are legion and unparalleled relative to any other association between individuals that our society formally sanctions and recognizes.”
Dena Iverson, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said the department received Casey’s letter and is reviewing his request.