In 1975 Anthony Sullivan and Richard Adams were two Los Angeles men who flew to Colorado to obtain a marriage license from Boulder County Clerk Clela Rorex. Rorex determined that there was “no legal justification to deny marriage to same-sex couples” (source) and issued six same-sex marriage licenses.
Their story is remarkable for two reasons 1) It shows that marriage equality isn’t just 21st century struggle. 2) Unlike some of the 21st century’s marriage cases, Sullivan and Adams received no legal support from gay organizations:
According to Sullivan and Miller, one reason for that lingering obscurity is the fact that gay leaders and professional LGBT organizations, regardless of political affiliation, chose not to publicly support these couples with legal representation.
Simply put, these couples often did not fit into the high-profile, well-funded, narrowly conceived, and highly controlled strategies many gay leaders at the time saw as politically necessary to achieve marriage equality.
“Richard and I suffered badly at the hands of the professional [LGBT] community,” Sullivan tellsThe Advocate. “When [we] got married, we received no support from [them]. Very early on, the male head of the National Gay Task Force told me, ‘We want you to lose your case.'”
That case, seeking recognition of the couple’s marriage in order to secure Sullivan’s legal residency in the U.S., was being backed by the Southern California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. As the case dragged on, a representative from Lambda Legal prevailed on the national head of the ACLU to urge the Southern California chapter to drop the case, Sullivan contends.
“In my files I have a copy of the letter,” he says.
“The only support of any kind that was ever shown to us came from the Log Cabin Republicans, who campaigned for Reagan to stop my deportation, and [by] the gay libertarians, who understood the issue,” Sullivan adds. “The Metropolitan Community Church did support us.”