Richard Adams early figure in gay marriage dies
After a brief illness, Adams died Dec. 17 at age 65 in the Hollywood home he shared with Tony Sullivan, his partner of 43 years, attorney Lavi Soloway told The Associated Press.
‘‘Theirs was a pretty remarkable story,’’ Soloway said in an email. ‘‘They were far ahead of their time when they took up the fight to have their legal Colorado marriage recognized by the federal government.’’
The two men met at a Los Angeles gay bar called ‘‘The Closet’’ in 1971.
In 1975, they heard about a rogue county clerk in Boulder, Colo., named Clela Rorex, a pioneer in her own right, who decided she would give marriage licenses to gay couples after learning from the district attorney’s office that nothing in Colorado law expressly forbade it.
Rorex’s office became what The New York Times soon after called ‘‘a mini-Nevada for homosexual couples.’’
Among the first six couples to take advantage were Adams and Sullivan, who traveled to Colorado, had a ceremony at the First Unitarian Church of Denver and were granted a license from Rorex, before the state’s attorney general ordered her to stop giving them to gay couples.
Their primary motivation in marrying was to get permanent U.S. residency status for Sullivan, an Australian, and they promptly put in an application with what was then called the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
They received a one-sentence denial from INS that was stunning in its bluntness.
‘‘You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots,’’ the letter said.
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