Family ties that 'bind'

By Marie E. Matyjaszek

Before June 2015, if you were a same sex couple in a state that did not validate same sex marriage, you had to get creative with how to provide your partner with health care and other benefits. For many couples faced with this dilemma, adoption was a viable option that afforded the legal family relationship necessary to secure medical and financial advantages.

One court case making headlines is that of Pennsylvania residents Nino Esposito and Drew Bosee, together more than four decades. Esposito, the elder of the two, legally adopted Bosee as his son in 2012, in a fairly simple process given that both of their parents were deceased. This allowed them to reap the same benefits as others recognized as family, but more importantly, legalized their relationship in a way that wasn’t possible at the time.

With the 2015 Supreme Court ruling of Obergefell v Hodges providing for same sex marriage throughout the United States, it made sense to go about recognizing their relationship  as a married couple.  They decided to annul the adoption and proceed with a marriage, which they had to do since Pennsylvania law recognizes marriage between adoptive parents and children as incest.

Logically, this all makes sense. Plan B (adoption) was only carried out because Plan A (marriage) wasn’t available to them. Now that Plan A is available, let’s scrap Plan B and move on. This type of situation had already been remedied with others that were in the same predicament – the adoption was annulled, and the couple legally wed. 

However, Judge Lawrence O’Toole ruled that their adoption remained in place, stating he didn’t believe that he had the legal authority to annul it. The case has been appealed, and hopefully will be overturned, thus paving the way for other couples in the same predicament to have a just result.

In the meantime, Esposito and Bosee will have no choice but to do something all too familiar to them – wait.

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Marie Matyjaszek is a family law attorney. Email her at matyjasz@hotmail.com.

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