Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How Marriage Inequality Prompts Gay Partners to Adopt One Another

The Atlantic's Koa Beck documents how historical bans on same-sex marriage have prompted some couples to adopt one another in an effort to gain legal protections denied because of their sexual orientation. Although achieving minimal protection of their assets, these efforts also have unintentionally reinforced misperceptions as to the morality of same-sex couples.

The title of this post comes from Beck's article, which begins:

The queer community has been dubbed as "perverse" since long before gays were dragged from The Stonewall Inn and beaten for their orientation.

Because of historical opposition to gay marriage, long-term, same-sex couples have a history of adopting one another for legal protection—the arrangement Liberace promised Scott Thorson in Behind The Candelabra during one of the high points in their jewel-encrusted relationship. The adopting of one's partner was a direct response to laws for estate, taxes, and wills that have failed to recognize same-sex partnerships. But in fact, it's heterosexist policies that prompted many notably "deviant" couples from history to engage in what could be considered incest, essentially further "deviance."

As late as June 2013, a 65-year-old man legally adopted his 73-year-old partner in Pennsylvania for financial protection because marriage was not available to them. The couple told ABC News that they were primarily concerned about Pennsylvania’s inheritance tax, which could make one partner liable for a 15 percent tax on the estate (as opposed to 4 percent if they pushed ahead with adoption). Men of this vintage can't sit around and wait for marriage equality to show up, so they've legally changed their relationship from partners to father and son.

They're in excellent company. Robert Allerton, the wealthy son of the founder of First Chicago Bank, openly adopted his partner, John Gregg, in 1959 following a change in Illinois law that permitted adult children to be adopted. Gregg was a 22-year-old orphan who met 49-year-old Allerton at a pre-football game lunch at the University of Illinois in the decadent 1920s. Gregg was studying architecture when he wandered into the Zeta Psi fraternity house, to which many brothers had brought their fathers. On meeting his future long-term companion/legal father, Gregg famously said in 1984, "Robert Allerton was invited over there for lunch, and he didn't have a son and I didn't have a father, so we were paired off and lived happily ever after."

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