Adams (right), with his partner Tony Sullivan, began the push for gay marriage at the alter and in the courtroom.
After a brief illness, Adams died Dec. 17 at age 65 in the Hollywood home he shared with Tony Sullivan, his partner of 43 years, attorney Lavi Soloway told The Associated Press.
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 were subjected to anti-gay slurs even from government agencies.
“They felt that in the end, the most important thing was their love for each other, and in that respect they won,” Soloway said. “No government or no law was ever able to keep them apart.”
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 Adams and Sullivan, who traveled to Colorado, had a ceremony at the First Unitarian Church of Denver and were granted a license from Rorex, before the state’s attorney general ordered her to stop giving them to gay couples. Rorex remained in contact with Adams throughout his life.