A gay man who chose to "adopt" his longtime partner to protect his inheritance and secure other rights is finally being allowed to annul the adoption so the two men can marry.
In 2012, Nino Esposito legally adopted Roland Bosee Jr., his partner of over 40 years.
"We just wanted some legitimacy and [to] be connected and be a family," Esposito, who is now 80, told People in November 2015.
The decision to adopt was made while same-sex marriage was still against the law in their home state of Pennsylvania. Esposito and Bosee thought adoption was their only chance.
"We never thought [same-sex marriage] would happen," said Bosee, who is 69.
When Pennsylvania legalized gay marriage in 2014, Esposito and Bosee found themselves in a legal bind. They wanted to get married, but were told that the law prohibited them from dissolving their adoption. As long as Esposito was Bosee's adoptive father, the two couldn't marry.
The two men appealed the ruling in 2015, and on Dec. 21 a Superior Court panel composed of three judges reversed the decision, finding that "under the circumstances of this case, Pennsylvania law permits an unopposed annulment or revocation of an adult adoption," according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
President Judge Susan Peikes Gantman explained the court's decision:
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.
The couple's attorneys, Andrew Gross and Mikhail Pappas, said the ruling is a major victory not only for their clients but for all same-sex couple across the state of Pennsylvania.
For Esposito and Bosee, the overriding emotion is one of relief.
"It feels wonderful that this is finally over," Esposito told Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "And I'm glad we could help everybody who needed to be helped."
"We thought this was a lost cause," he added. "It took so long, we worried something must be up."
The two men are now looking forward to marrying, although they are prepared to do so without any fanfare.
"I'm sure some friends and family will want to do something," Esposito said. "But at our age, we're not worrying about ceremonies."