Common-law marriages of same-sex couples must be recognized, Pa. court rules
Years after one of the partners died, a state appeals court on Monday ruled that a same-sex couple had a legitimate common-law marriage decades before same-sex marriage became legal in Pennsylvania.
The Superior Court ruling means that as the surviving partner, Michael Hunter has the same legal rights, including shared property rights, that any other widow or widower would have following their spouse's death.
It also opens the door to the recognition of other same-sex common-law marriages that were entered into before the state abolished common-law marriage in January 2005.
The state court made its decision in an opinion by Judge Geoffrey Moulton, who found that denying common-law marriage status to Hunter and his late partner Stephen Carter would violate their constitutional rights.