In this May 10, 1984 photo, gay partners Richard Adams, left, and Anthony Sullivan appear at a news conference. They were facing the deportation of Sullivan to Austrialia. Adams, who used both the altar and the courtroom to help begin the push for gay marriage four decades before it reached the center of the national consciousness, has died, his attorney said Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012. After a brief illness, Adams died Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, at age 65 in the Hollywood home he shared with Sullivan, his partner of 43 years, attorney Lavi Soloway told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Los Angeles Times) NO FORNS; NO SALES; MAGS OUT; ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER OUT; LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS OUT; VENTURA COUNTY STAR OUT; INLAND VALLEY DAILY BULLETIN OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT, TV OUT
Updated: January 25, 2013 6:22AM
LOS ANGELES — Richard Adams, who used both the altar and the courtroom to help begin the push for gay marriage four decades before it reached the center of the national consciousness, has died, his attorney said Sunday.
After a brief illness, Mr. Adams died Dec. 17 at age 65 in the Hollywood home he shared with Tony Sullivan, his partner of 43 years, attorney Lavi Soloway said.
Adams and Sullivan met at a Los Angeles gay bar called “The Closet” in 1971, but their life and relationship would soon be on display for a worldwide audience.
They were granted a marriage license in 1975, but for years fought in vain to see it recognized by governments and a population for whom the idea of two married men was still strange and foreign.
“They felt that in the end, the most important thing was their love for each other, and in that respect they won,” Soloway said.
The couple’s public life began when they heard about a county clerk in Boulder, Colo., named Clela Rorex, a pioneer in her own right who took the unprecedented step of giving 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 Mr. Adams and Sullivan, who traveled to Colorado, had a ceremony at the First Unitarian Church of Denver and were granted a license from Rorex.