Anthony Corbett Sullivan met Richard Frank Adams at the Closet Bar in Los Angeles in 1971 and within a few months they were living together. Sullivan, an Australian citizen had been traveling on a tourist visa, and by 1974 he had exhausted all his legal options to stay in the United States. It was at this time that Sullivan and Adams decided to fight for their right to continue to live together in the United States. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) initiated deportation proceedings in April 1975, but granted Sullivan a continuance to file for political asylum on the grounds that he would face persecution if he returned to Australia. During the continuance it came to Sullivan and Adams' attention that marriage licenses were being granted to same-sex couples in Colorado; they traveled to Colorado and were married on April 21, 1975, by Robert A. Sirico and Freda Smith, both ordained ministers of the Universal Fellowship of the Metropolitan Community Church (UFMCC). Adams then petitioned the INS for spousal status for Sullivan; while the petition was being considered, the INS adjourned Sullivan's deportation hearing. When the deportation hearing resumed in February 1980, Sullivan sought its suspension, claiming that deportation would cause extreme hardship to himself and Adams. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) rejected Sullivan's hardship claims and refused to consider Adams to be "a qualifying relative to whom hardship may be shown under the express provisions of the statue." Their lawyer, David M. Brown, appealed the BIA's ruling in Adams v. Howerton.
Prior to their marriage in Colorado, Sullivan and Adams were married in a church ceremony by Troy Perry of the UFMCC. The UFMCC supported their right to marry through the Anthony Sullivan Defense Fund League, which organized demonstrations and fundraisers during the INS appeals process to the ruling of the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
On September 30, 1985, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the INS the decision to deny Adams' visa petition, holding that, even if legal, the marriage would not meet the standards of federal immigration law. The court also affirmed the ruling in Adams v. Howerton rejecting Sullivan's hardship claims. Sullivan was ordered to leave the United States. However, after traveling in Europe the couple secretly returned to the United States, where Sullivan, a writer, continues (2004) to live illegally with Adams, who works at a law firm, in an undisclosed location.
Caldwell, John. "Legally Wed in Colorado, 1975: Pioneering Gay Couple Anthony Sullivan and Richard Adams Didn't Just Get Legally Married 29 Years Ago; They Stood Up And Demanded To Be Recognized." The Advocate, 30 March 2004.
Anthony Corbett Sullivan v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 772 F.2d 609 (1985), http://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F2/772/772.F2d.609.84-7317.html (accessed June 23, 2008).
Sullivan, Anthony and Richard Adams. "Immigration Case," http://www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/Stonewall/1676/1975Marriages/ImmigrationCase.html (accessed June 23, 2008)