Men Told They Can't Wed— Because They're Father and Son

Penn. couple trying to annul adoption they did strictly for legal purposes
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2015 6:29 PM CST
Men Told They Can't Wed— Because They're Father and Son
Two Pennsylvania men together for 45 years can't marry—because they're technically father and son.   (Shutterstock)

Roland Bosee Jr., 68, and Nino Esposito, 78, have been inseparable since they first met in 1970. "You meet someone and it just clicks," Esposito told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last month. So with the SCOTUS decision over the summer to legalize gay marriage, the men looked forward to finally tying the knot. But one issue is holding them back: Esposito is technically Bosee's father, because he adopted him in 2012. "We thought never in our lifetime—or in 20 lifetimes—...same-sex marriage [would] happen," Bosee said, adding to CNN that the adoption "gave us the most legitimate thing available to us" at the time. Even though they petitioned to have the adoption annulled, Allegheny County Judge Lawrence O'Toole —known for being progressive on LGBT issues—rejected that plea, noting that adoptions are typically only dissolved when fraud is involved and that nixing theirs "would place in jeopardy and imperil adoption decrees generally."

Adoptions of this sort are often sought to cement legal status for financial and other reasons, as well as to strengthen emotional ties. The men said it was both: Esposito told the Post-Gazette "we felt we lacked a family of our own," but they also discovered that any money they inherited from each other would be subject to a much greater inheritance tax if they weren't considered relatives. One person on the couple's side: Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, who tells the Post-Gazette, "I wasn't aware that LGBT couples were turning to this method. I can't even imagine having to get an adoption petition approved … to visit a loved one in the hospital." Casey has written a letter of support to AG Loretta Lynch, asking her office to "consider issuing guidance" in cases like this; her office is reviewing it, a rep tells CNN. (The gay marriage decision held up a heterosexual couple's divorce.)

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