Maureen Hennessey lived with the love of her life, Mary Beth McIntyre, from 1984 until Mary Beth's death on May 18, 2013, at the age of 55. Together they raised three children in Philadelphia. While Mary Beth was suffering the physical and emotional pain of end stage cancer, she had the additional burden of worrying about how Maureen would manage financially after she 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.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the American Civil Liberties Union, and volunteer counsel from the law firm of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller filed a federal lawsuit on July 9, 2013, on behalf of Maureen and 22 other Pennsylvanians who wish to marry in Pennsylvania or want the commonwealth to recognize their out-of-state marriages.