Maureen Hennessey and Mary Beth McIntyre met and fell in love in 1984. They committed to each other and spent the next 29 years raising three children, Maureen working as a teacher and Mary Beth as an entrepreneur, and contributing to their Philadelphia community.
In 2009, Mary Beth was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Maureen left her job to care for Mary Beth full-time. As Mary Beth and Maureen tried to treasure their last months together, they also worried about Maureen’s financial health after Mary Beth was gone.
Because their marriage is not recognized in Pennsylvania, Maureen must pay a 15 percent inheritance tax on half of their shared property, including their home. And unless their marriage is recognized in Pennsylvania before Maureen turns 65, Maureen will not be eligible to receive Mary Beth’s Social Security benefits. Pennsylvania’s refusal to recognize her marriage to Mary Beth does more than cause Maureen economic hardship. In her time of grief, she is denied the comfort and dignity of being acknowledged as Mary Beth’s widow.
Mary Beth died in May 2013, and Maureen’s economic situation is still in limbo.
Source: ACLU. “Whitewood v. Corbett: Plaintiff Profiles.” <https://www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/whitewood-v-corbett-plaintiff-profiles#hurdle>