Tags: gay | couple | adoption | bill novak | norman macarthur | vacated

Gay Couple's Adoption: Bill Novak and Norman MacArthur Finally Marry

By    |   Thursday, 28 May 2015 10:24 AM

A gay couple, Bill Novak and Norman MacArthur, had their adoption vacated recently so the partners of 52 years could finally marry.

Once considered an adopted father and son, 78-year-old Novak and 76-year-old MacArthur moved to the Philadelphia suburbs two decades ago and were surprised to find out that Pennsylvania would not recognize their New York marriage.

So they turned to adoption.

“When we moved to Pennsylvania, we had both retired and we were of the age where one begins to do estate planning,” MacArthur told Yahoo Parenting. “We went to a lawyer who told us Pennsylvania was never going to allow same-sex marriage, so the only legal avenue we had in order to be afforded any rights was adoption.”

Novak, who is two years older, legally adopted MacArthur in 2000, a move that allowed the men to have familial rights, such as the ability to visit each other in the hospital and an exclusion from the inheritance tax.

“It struck me as fairly unusual, but we looked into it and discovered that other couples had done it,” MacArthur said. “[Without the adoption] we would be legally strangers.”

Things changed last year, however, when a federal judge declared Pennsylvania’s prohibition of same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Novak and MacArthur knew immediately they wanted to get married.

But it wasn't easy.

When the couple initially looked into dissolving their adoption, a lawyer told them the court would not sign off unless another person was adopting MacArthur.

Unsatisfied with that idea, MacArthur contacted another attorney he knew. That lawyer, Terry Clemons, suggested their adoptive status could be removed if they could prove the affiliation began for the sake of legality for their relationship.

The couple went to court May 14.

“When we went to court my knees were knocking, but at the end of the hearing Terry said, ‘we’re hoping you will sign the order to vacate the adoption from the bench,’ and the judge said ‘I will happily do that,’” MacArthur told Yahoo. “We had 30 friends in court to show that this case was out of the ordinary — though the judge knew that — and when the judge signed the order our friends burst into applause and I burst into tears.”

Their adoption is the first in Pennsylvania to be dissolved for the purpose of a same-sex relationship.

The couple finally had a wedding celebration Sunday with an Episcopalian priest, one of their friends, performing the ceremony.

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A gay couple, Bill Novak and Norman MacArthur, had their adoption vacated recently so the partners of 52 years could finally marry.
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Thursday, 28 May 2015 10:24 AM
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