HRC Blog

Richard Adams, Marriage Equality Pioneer, Dies at 65

richard adams​Post submitted by Charlie Joughin, HRC Press Secretary

This week we learned that LGBT equality pioneer Richard Adams has passed away.  Nearly 40 years ago, Adams and his partner Anthony Sullivan were the first couple to file a marriage equality lawsuit against the federal government. 


Adams and his partner, Tony Sullivan, met in 1971 in Los Angeles and were legally wed in Colorado on April 21, 1975, by a Boulder city clerk with five other same-sex couples. Later that year Adams filed a petition with the government to make Sullivan a permanent resident as a spouse of a U.S. citizen. According to reports, the couple received a letter from the Immigration and Naturalization Service on November 24, 1975 that read, "You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots."

Adams, who died Monday at the age of 65, was a true hero and pioneer of the LGBT equality movement, and will be remembered for fighting against injustice and discrimination in a time when standing up LGBT equality was unpopular – and sometimes dangerous.

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