DOYLESTOWN A judge has recognized a same-sex common-law marriage that ended in one partner's death, allowing the widow to receive benefits.

The decision, handed down Wednesday by Bucks County Court Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr., is believed to be the first in which a same-sex union was recognized retroactively, according to Mary Hackett, a Pittsburgh-based lawyer with the Reed Smith firm.

Hackett represented Sabrina Maurer, a Doylestown woman who married Kimberly Underwood in a religious ceremony in 2001. Underwood died of heart disease in 2013. Pennsylvania began recognizing common-law marriages in 2005 and same-sex marriage in 2014.

Hackett offered free legal counsel to Maurer after reading about her situation on Facebook. - Ben Finley