Way back in 1975, Anthony Sullivan and Richard Adams heard tale of Clela Rorex, a county clerk in Boulder, Colorado, who began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after learning from the district attorney’s office that nothing in Colorado law expressly forbade it.
On April 21, 1975, Anthony and Richard obtained a marriage license and exchanged vows at the First Unitarian Church of Denver.
The couple’s primary motivation in marrying was to get permanent U.S. residency status for Sullivan, an Australian native, and as soon as they wed they put in an application with what was then called the Immigration and Naturalization Service [INS]. But the INS refused to grant them immigration benefits, issuing a one-sentence denial:
“You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.”
Yes; it said ‘faggots.’ But I’m guessing that someone at the INS saw the inherent bigotry in that singular line — which you can see by emBIGGERating the picture at right — because they instantly issued a follow-up response that removed the word ‘faggot’ while still denying the men’s request.
So, Sullivan and Adams took the US government to court, demanding that their marriage be recognized for immigration purposes, but after some ten years of lawsuits and countersuits, Sullivan and Adams lost in a final ruling at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
But now Anthony Sullivan, following the death of his husband, Richard Adams in December of 2012, is once again asking that the federal government recognize his marriage and grant him citizenship as the surviving spouse of a US citizen. His request to reopen the petition comes on the 39th anniversary of the day he and Adams were married.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — which has taken over for the INS — declined to comment on the case, but the agency did begin issuing green cards to married same-sex couples last year after the Supreme Court struck down a section of DOMA that prohibited federal recognition of lawful same-sex marriages.
Here’s’ the deal: Anthony Sullivan and Richard Adams were married, legally, and remained married for nearly forty years until Adams passed away. I say it’s well past time we recognized their marriage and allowed Anthony Sullivan to become a citizen of the country where he moved, fell in love, got married, and has spent the majority of his life.
What’s the big deal in that?