The Men Who Were Forced To Be Father And Son Just Got Married

Fifteen years ago, Norman MacArthur and Bill Novak were recognised as father and son in the eyes of the law.

However, only last Sunday, the two, 74 and 76, officially became newlyweds.

Meeting in their early 20s, MacArthur and Novak have been in a relationship for 54 years. But since they live in Pennsylvania, they weren’t able to get married. Until same-sex marriage was legalised there only recently.


They wanted protect their estate and get certain legal rights, but they couldn’t get married, so they became father and son through adoption.

“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,” MacArthur said

The pair began to consider adoption after moving to Pennsylvania in 2000.

They had been registered as domestic partners when they lived in New York City in 1994, but domestic partnerships were not legal upon moving states.

After visiting a lawyer, Novak legally adopted MacArthur later in 2000.

When same-sex marriage was legalised in Pennsylvania in May 2014 the two were delighted. But it wasn’t as easy as just getting married there and then; the two had to reverse the adoption first.


“When we went to court my knees were knocking, but at the end of the hearing Terry [their lawyer] 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 said.

“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.”

10 days later they were married. After being father and son, kind of, for 15 years.

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