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Gay Man Seeks Right to Marry His Adopted Son

Gay Man Seeks Right to Marry His Adopted Son

A same-sex wedding cake topper is seen outside the East Los Angeles County Recorder's Office on Valentine's Day during a news event for National Freedom to Marry Week in Los Angeles, Calif., Feb. 14, 2012. | (Photo: Reuters/David McNew)

Now that same-sex marriage is legal across the United States, a gay man and his legally adopted son are seeking the right to nullify the adoption so they can get married.

Before the Obergefell v. Hodges U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively legalized same-sex marriage across the country, many same-sex couples who were looking for a way to be legally recognized as a family used the adoption process as an avenue to grant them family benefits, such as hospital visitation rights and lesser inheritance taxation.

In 2012, Pennsylvania resident Nino Esposito and his partner of over 42 years, Roland "Drew" Bosee, decided to go down the adoption route to seek some sort of legal validation for their relationship at a time when they believed same-sex marriage would never be legalized in their home state.

Esposito, 78, adopted Bosee, 68, as his son. Bosee quickly moved in with Esposito and his parents in Pittsburgh and the couple later got their own place.

"We just wanted some legitimacy and to be connected and be a family," Esposito, a retired school teacher, told People.

But now that marriage is an option for gay couples in Pennsylvania, the only thing standing in the couple's way is the state's law that considers relations between parents and adopted children to be incest.

As the couple knew of at least one other same-sex couple living in Harrisburg who were able to get their adoption annulled so they could be married, Esposito and Bosee decided to try to get their own adoption annulled.

The couple petitioned Allegheny Court Judge Lawrence O'Toole, who, The Washington Post reports has a reputation of being a progressive on LGBT issues, to see if he could grant them an annulment.

O'Toole, however, ruled in June that Pennsylvania's adoption laws would not allow him to grant the couple an annulment, leaving the couple's quest for marriage in limbo.

Upon issuing his ruling, Lawrence explained that this case and similar gay adoption annulment cases should be settled by an appellate court.

"Their fundamental right to marry has been denied," Andrew Gross, the couple's attorney, said.

The couple have appealed Lawrence's ruling to the state's Superior Court and arguments are scheduled to be heard in December.

"We don't believe the Pennsylvania judge who refused to annul this adoption was unsympathetic," Witold Walczak of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania told CNN. "He simply felt that the legal path to doing so should be forged by an appellate court."

In a letter this week, Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey called on U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to issue a guidance to "courts across the country so that gay couples who have previously entered into adoptions can annul them in order to receive marriage licenses."

"LGBT couples should have the right to obtain a marriage license, no matter the state or jurisdiction in which they reside," Casey argued. "In adoption cases such as these, the law has changed dramatically since the adoptions were first carried out."


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