Small Victories

Legally father and son, this couple is finally on the road to marriage


“It feels wonderful that this is finally over. And I’m glad we could help everybody who needed to be helped.”

That’s Nino Esposito, who’s been in a relationship with Roland Bosee Jr. for almost half a century, discussing the fact that the couple is now on the road to marriage after a year tied up in considerable red tape.

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Thanks to a Pennsylvania Superior Court ruling on Wednesday, the men’s plight has finally established a precedent for couples in similar situations.

In 2012, 80-year-old Esposito adopted his 69-year-old partner, and were therefore unable to marry despite being in a relationship since 1970.

The Post-Gazette reports that same-sex couples have used adoption in order to protect inheritances and several other rights before marriage equality became the law of the land.

Once Pennsylvania made same-sex legal in 2014, the couple found themselves in a frustrating snafu: To get married, they’d need to dissolve their adoption, but Allegheny Count Common Pleas Judge Lawrence O’Toole stated that they’d be unable to do so unless fraud was involved.

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The couple appealed; a logical move considering that other Pennsylvania judges had ruled differently. This led Judge O’Toole to seek guidance from a higher court.

On Wednesday, a three-judge Superior Court panel came to the decision that “under the circumstances of the case, Pennsylvania law permits an unopposed annulment or revocation of an adult adoption.”

President Judge Susan Peikes Gantsman wrote:

Although the Adoption Act does not expressly provide for the annulment of the adult adoption, case law does allow it in certain scenarios; and this case presents wholly new and unique circumstances….

Pennsylvania law regarding same sex marriage [has] changed; same-sex couples in this Commonwealth may now exercise their fundamental right to marry. Therefore, where a same-sex couple, who previously obtained an adult adoption, now seeks to annul or revoke the adoption in order to marry, the Orphans’ court has the authority to annul or revoke the adult adoption.

Andrew Gross and Mikhail Pappas, the attorneys representing the couple, called the ruling “a victory for our clients because it means that they can finally marry each other” and “a victory for same-sex couples throughout Pennsylvania.”

Legal director Vic Walczak said the decision was “a fair and practical ruling that allows gay and lesbian couples who got creative in protecting their interests to [exercise] their constitutional right to marry.”

Esposito calls the decision “a relief.”

“We thought this was a lost cause,” he says. “It took so long, we worried something must be up.”

They plan to marry quietly.

“I’m sure some friends and family will want to do something. But at our age, we’re not worrying about ceremonies.”