After 50 years as a couple—and 15 years as father and son in the eyes of the law—Bill Novak and Norman MacArthur are getting married. Both men are in their 70s, and they registered as domestic partners in New York City in 1994. But when they moved to Pennsylvania in 2000, they discovered that adoption was the only way at the time to give their relationship any kind of legal status for things like estate planning, so Novak adopted MacArthur, Patch.com reports. MacArthur says they were told "hell would freeze over" before they could marry in the state. When they legally canceled the adoption last week, they applied for a marriage license the same day and received one in 15 minutes, MacArthur says.
This is the first case of its kind in Pennsylvania and it will set an important precedent, the couple's lawyer tells Patch.com, though he says the adoption approach used to be relatively common among same-sex couples. Novak and MacArthur say they are "ecstatic beyond belief" and feel an "enormous sense of not only relief but freedom" that their real relationship will finally be legally recognized. They plan to marry at a courthouse soon and will hold a big reception this summer. (In some states, employers have told gay employees they need to get married for their partners to continue accessing health benefits.)