The story behind Nino Esposito and Drew Bosee’s attempts to become legally married is a sad reminder of the journey many older gay and lesbian people have been on in their lifetimes.
Approaching their twilight years, Nino, 78 and Drew, 68, worried that because same sex marriage was still illegal in Pennsylvania, US, they would have no rights or benefits enjoyed by other straight couples. In the case of inheritance rights and other benefits, this was particularly worrying for them if one of them died, as the other would not be protected.
Together for over 45 years, like any other couple they wanted to ensure that they would be taking care of each other even when one of them passed away.
Thinking that same sex marriage “was never going to come to Pennsylvania in [their] lifetime”, the pair decide to take a different legal route to gain that protection. Three years ago, Nino legally adopted his partner. This gave them rights that other couples take for granted in the country, including the right to visit each other in hospital.
A judge in Allegheny County has refused their request to dissolve the adoption, thus leaving them without any way they can be legally wed.
Bosee said, “It’s sort of ironic that by doing the adoption, we thought we were getting ahead of the game.”
“Instead of it being a help, [the adoption] has become a roadblock, a hindrance, to what we should be allowed to do now.”
It might seem as if the US legal system never forgets attempts to circumvent it, and is now punishing the couple for their forward-thinking. However, Judge Lawrence O’Toole of the court said that he was “sensitive to the situation”. He refused to set a precedent by dissolving the adoption, because it is very rare, and often only allowed in cases of fraud.
The pair will appeal to the Superior Court in the state, and the American Civil Liberties Union Pennsylvania is hopeful that the appeal will be upheld, allowing other same sex couples in the same situation to finally marry as they wish.