Richard Adams, one of the first people
in the United States to marry someone of the same sex, died Monday at his
home in Los Angeles after a brief illness. He was 65.
Adams married his partner of 4 years,
Anthony Sullivan, in 1975.
The men wed in Boulder, Colorado, along
with five other gay and lesbian couples who acquired a license from a
liberal county clerk, Clela Rorex.
Sullivan, an Australian, was in the
United States on a limited visa. Adams had hoped to secure permanent
residency for him but the marriage was declared invalid by Colorado's
A letter from the Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS) denying Sullivan's petition stated: “You
have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can
exist between two faggots.”
Adams also was a plaintiff in the first
federal lawsuit seeking marriage rights for gay couples.
In comments to The
Los Angeles Times, attorney Lavi Soloway described Adams and
Sullivan as “pioneers who stood up and fought for something nobody
at the time conceived of as a right, the right of gay couples to be
“Attitudes at the time were not
supportive, to put it mildly. They went on the [Phil] Donahue show
and people in the audience said some pretty nasty things. But they
withstood it all because they felt it was important to speak out.”
The men fought the deportation order
for the next decade. But in 1985, a federal appeals court rejected
the couple's claims, clearing the way for Sullivan to be sent back to
Australia. The men fled to Europe. A year later they quietly
returned to Los Angeles.