US: Gay rights pioneer Richard Adams dies aged 65

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Tributes have been paid to Richard Adams, who died last week after a short illness at the age of 65 in his Hollywood home with his partner of 43 years Tony Sullivan at his side.

The legendary gay rights campaigner helped begin the push for equal marriage four decades before it reached the statute book in several US states and beyond.

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 recognised in the US.

Even today, in their home state of California, equal marriage remains banned pending a review by the US Supreme Court.  

The two were granted a marriage license in 1975 in Colorado by a county clerk who didn’t see anything in the state’s law that specifically banned marrying a gay couple.

However, soon after their wedding, Adams and Sullivan learned that their marriage had no standing in federal court, and therefore they were not allowed to have the same benefits as heterosexual couples.

Sullivan was rejected for his permanent US residency, in a letter from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service, it said: “You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.”