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 attorney general.

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 married.”

“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.