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Same-sex marriage retroactivity

Written by The Associated Press | Jul 31, 2015 5:29 PM
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(Philadelphia) _ A judge has recognized a 2001 same-sex union as a common-law marriage in Pennsylvania even though one partner died before gay marriage became legal.


Sabrina Maurer's case involves her fight over death benefits and inheritance taxes following the 2013 death of Kim Underwood.


Bucks County Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr. says the women retroactively qualify as common-law spouses because of their 2001 church union.


Underwood died a year before a federal judge ordered Pennsylvania to conduct same-sex marriages and recognize those performed earlier.


Fritsch's ruling Wednesday appears to extend that decision to include earlier common-law unions, at least in Bucks County.


Family lawyer Helen Casale  says the ruling is creating plenty of buzz in the legal community as gay clients pursue death benefits, divorce settlements and other claims.

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