Though Nino Esposito, a retired teacher, is just 10 years older than 68-year-old Roland “Drew” Bosee, he legally adopted him in 2012.
The pair has been a couple since the 1970s, but they never believed same-sex marriage would be recognized in their home state of Pennsylvania, CNN reports. Now, they’re fighting to annul the adoption so they can finally get married.
Adoption "gave us the most legitimate thing available to us" at the time, Bosee told CNN.
Esposito and Bosee aren’t alone. Although it’s hard to know how many same-sex couples took the adoption route, the ACLU of Pennsylvania says many couples did so in order to protect their relationship. However, it’s very difficult to annul an adoption in a court of law, and Judge Lawrence J. O'Toole, of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, ruled against the couple.
Though O’Toole said he’s sensitive to the situation, he added that the point of adoption was to reduce inheritance taxes from 15 percent to 4 percent.
"This Court welcomes direction from our appellate courts in handling parallel cases," O'Toole wrote in his ruling.
While the couple waits in legal limbo, lawmakers are taking an interest. On Nov. 2, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to suggest the Justice Department “consider issuing guidance” for cases like that of Esposito and Bosee’s, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
Casey has been considered typically conservative on social issues, though he supports same-sex marriage, which was legalized in Pennsylvania in 2014.
“We’re going to be running into these complexities and glitches because of the history of discrimination,” Casey said, adding that “there’s been remarkable progress, and it’s been so affirming.”
The couple’s attorneys, Mikhail Pappas and Andrew Gross, said they believe the case is a civil rights issue.
“The personal and social benefits of marriage are legion and unparalleled relative to any other association between individuals that our society formally sanctions and recognizes,” they argued, according to court papers cited by CNN.
Esposito and Bosee are holding off on planning the wedding they’ve been waiting more than 40 years for.
"We had our $80 in cash and we were ready to go across the street to get our license. Judge O'Toole had other ideas," Esposito said.