There’s a lot of disagreement about when exactly the modern fight for marriage equality began. Was it with John Singer and Paul Barwick in Seattle in 1971? Was it Jack Baker and Michael McConnell in Minnesota in 1967?
Whoever got the ball rolling, you can’t deny that Richard Adams and Tony Sullivan faced one of the hardest fights: A binational couple, they were legally wed in Boulder, Colorado, along with five other gay couples on April 21, 1975. But later that same year, when Adams petitioned the government to make Sullivan, who was Australian, a permanent resident, the couple received a jaw-dropping reply from the INS district director: “You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.” Adams and Sullivan appealed the order in court, filing the first marriage-equality lawsuit against the federal government.
Sadly, Richard Adams passed away on Wednesday at age 65, more than four decades after meeting Tony Sullivan in Los Angeles. Above, watch the trailer Limited Partnership, a touching documentary about their lives together.
Rest in peace, Richard Adams.