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Marriage Equality

Gays Who Adopted Partners Need Annulments, Senator Says

Gays Who Adopted Partners Need Annulments, Senator Says

Novak and MacArthur
Bill Novak and Norman MacArthur were able to annul their adoption and get legally married.

Before marriage equality, many same-sex partners turned to adoption to obtain benefits they were denied as couples.

Nbroverman

Bob Casey, Pennsylvania's Democratic senior senator, wants to right a wrong that's affecting numerous same-sex couples -- the inability to obtain annulments for couples in which one partner adopted the other before the days of marriage equality.

This was a common practice in the mid-20th century, as adoption offered legal protections for same-sex partners when it came to matters like hospital visiting privileges and inheritance laws. But now with marriage equality, some couples in this situation are finding it difficult to annul their adoptions so they can legally wed.

In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Casey writes of a couple in Pennsylvania's Allegheny County who were denied their adoption annulment request in July. The judge stated that adoption annulments can only be granted in cases of fraud and reversing them in other instances would place all adoptions in jeopardy. Because of the ruling, the couple cannot marry, since they would be guilty of incest and could face 10 years in prison. The situation is not exclusive to the Allegheny County couple.

Casey wants Lynch to issue guidance to courts across the country on the matter so that same-sex couples in this situation can easily annul their adoption and enter into a legal marriage.

"Prior decisions such as the one made in Bucks County, Pennsylvania may provide the legal foundation for such guidance," Casey writes. "LGBT couples should have the right to obtain a marriage license, no matter the state or jurisdiction in which they reside. As you know, Justice Anthony Kennedy described the request of same sex couples in Obergefell as "equal dignity in the eyes of the law." In adoption cases such as these, the law has changed dramatically since the adoptions were first carried out. To ensure the dignity of all LGBT couples is affirmed no matter their current adoption status, we must ensure that all parties know their options under the law. I appreciate your attention in this matter and look forward to your response."

Nbroverman
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Neal Broverman

Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.
Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.