SIGN THIS PETITION: We stand with Anthony Sullivan in his fight for recognition of his marriage to Richard Adams. The Obama administration should reverse the 1975 Green Card denial in which the Immigration Service called this gay couple “two faggots.”
Anthony Sullivan in May 2014
In 1975, gay rights pioneers, Anthony (Tony) Sullivan, an Australian, and Richard Adams, an American citizen, were one of the first same-sex couples in the United States to be legally married. After applying for a green card based on their marriage, Tony and Richard received an official denial from the Immigration Service in a letter that stated only: “You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.”
The couple then began a high profile, ten-year legal battle, suing the Immigration Service for recognition of their marriage and became the first lawfully married same-sex couple to sue the federal government for equal treatment under U.S. Immigration law. Tony and Richard shared their lives together as a couple for more than 41 years until Richard Adams’ untimely death in December 2012.
We urge you to direct U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to resolve Anthony Sullivan’s immigration status and recognize his 37-year marriage to Richard Adams by granting his green card petition as the widower of a U.S. citizen under our immigration law.
The time is now to write the final chapter in Anthony Sullivan and Richard Adams’ fight for equality.
Watch Trailer for “Limited Partnership,” the Upcoming Documentary Film about Pioneering Gay Rights Activists, Anthony Sullivan and Richard Adams, Whose Historic 1975 Marriage and Fight for a Green Card Defined the Modern Marriage Equality Movement
The upcoming documentary feature film “Limited Partnership” will have its world premiere on June 14 at the prestigious Los Angeles Film Festival. The film recounts the personal story of gay rights pioneers Anthony (Tony) Sullivan and Richard Adams, one of the first same-sex couples to be legally married in 1975. After applying for a green card based on their marriage, Tony and Richard received an official denial from the Immigration Service in a letter that stated only “You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.” The couple then began a high profile, ten year legal battle, suing the Immigration Service for recognition of their marriage and became the first lawfully married same-sex couple to sue the federal government for equal treatment under U.S. Immigration law. They remained together for more than 41 years until the untimely death of Richard Adams in 2012.
“Limited Partnership” follows Richard and Tony’s 40-year struggle to stay together in the U.S., in the context of the wider history of the fight for equality by LGBT community and same-sex binational couples, from early days of the struggle right up to the historic U.S. Supreme Court rulings last year striking down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.
On April 21, 1975, after learning that the county clerk in Boulder, Colorado was issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Adams, a naturalized U.S. citizen, married Sullivan who is Australian. The couple returned home to Los Angeles and Richard Adams immediately filed a green card petition with INS on Sullivan’s behalf for the spouse of an American citizen. They became one of the first gay couples in American history to legally marry and the first same-sex couple to sue the U.S. government for recognition of their marriage.
Don’t miss previous QP Exclusive: Interview with Anthony Sullivan, Equal Rights Pioneer:
Statement by Anthony Sullivan, April 22, 2014:
“On Monday, April 21, I appeared at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in downtown Los Angeles to ask the federal government to revisit their denial of the green card petition that filed by my spouse Richard Adams on my behalf in 1975 shortly after we became one of the first gay couples in American history to be lawfully married.
“Our green card petition was denied with a shocking letter from the INS that contained only one sentence calling us “faggots.” We sued the government and fought to be treated with dignity and respect and in the end we could not overcome the prejudices and bigotry of the time. Today we live in a different world. I want to the current Immigration Service to reopen my case, and reverse the denial of that green card petition so that I can be classified as the widower of an American citizen and obtain a green card after nearly forty years. My beloved Richard, who left us in December 2012, does not deserve to have the word “faggots” associated with his name in an official government file for all eternity. As an American citizen, he should have been treated fairly during his life, and now that he is gone, the least that the government can do is to render a legally and morally correct decision.
“I am fighting this battle 39 year later for Richard and for myself. I should be permitted to apply for the green card that was denied to me in 1975, and my marriage to Richard should finally be respected and treated equally under the law.
“Returning to the very same building where the original decision was made to reject us and insult us with the original “faggots” letter was certainly difficult. I certainly experienced a lot of unpleasant anticipation and concern knowing what I was about to do. But in the end, the experience of filing the Motion to Reopen with the clerk was clarifying. It was a positive experience to walk into their offices and submit my request for justice knowing that the individuals who work in that office now approve green cards for gay and lesbian spouses of American citizens as a routine part of their work.
“In the final analysis, I am optimistic. The world has changed and we are no longer labeled as “psychopathic personalities” and “mental defectives” by the immigration law as we were back then. I am a great believer in redemption and second opportunities. The government has an opportunity to do the right thing now.
Please contact my attorney Lavi Soloway at (323)577-9365 for further information, or see www.domaproject.org for additional historical documents and updates.
UPDATE: Anthony Sullivan, Gay Rights Pioneer, Seeks Reversal of 1975 Green Card Denial Based on Historic Marriage
On Monday, April 21, at 10 a.m., Anthony Sullivan, a 72-year-old gay immigrant, asked the Los Angeles Field Office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) to reopen his marriage-based green card petition which this same office denied four decades ago.
Sixteen months after the death of his spouse in December 2012, Sullivan returns to fight for recognition of their marriage and for a green card, this time as the widower of an American citizen. Thirty-nine years to the day since Anthony Sullivan and Richard Adams were legally married, Sullivan continues to fight for the right to have their marriage recognized by the federal government. By filing a Motion to Reopen and Reconsider with USCIS, Sullivan will ask that Adams’ 1975 green card petition be retroactively approved and automatically converted to a widower’s petition, which would give Sullivan the right to apply for a green card.
On April 21, Anthony Sullivan and his attorney, Lavi Soloway, gave the Immigration Service and the Obama administration a unique opportunity to correct an historic wrong and reverse the gross injustice of its denial of the 1975 petition by putting Sullivan on the path to a green card.
Gay Immigrant Seeks Reversal of Infamous 1975 Green Card Denial, Based on Historic Same-Sex Marriage
On Monday, April 21, at 10 a.m., Anthony Sullivan, a 72-year-old gay immigrant, will ask the Los Angeles Field Office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) to reopen his marriage-based green card petition which this same office denied four decades ago.
In a letter dated November 24, 1975 and addressed to Sullivan’s spouse, Richard Adams, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”) wrote only a single inflammatory sentence to deny the petition:
“You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.”
Anthony Sullivan and Richard Adams fought back in a high-profile lawsuit, demanding that the federal government recognize their marriage for immigration purposes. Following ten years of litigation, they lost in a final ruling at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Sixteen months after the death of his spouse in December 2012, Sullivan now returns to fight for recognition of their marriage and for a green card, this time as the widower of an American citizen. By filing a Motion to Reopen and Reconsider with USCIS, Sullivan will ask that Adams’ 1975 green card petition be retroactively approved and automatically converted to a widower’s petition, which would give Sullivan the right to apply for a green card. This would be consistent with what is a routine procedure available to opposite-sex couples in similar circumstances. Sullivan and Adams were together for 41 years after first meeting on May 5, 1971 at a Los Angeles gay bar called “The Closet.” Soon after they started dating, Sullivan and Adams decided they wanted to be married. On April 21, 1975, after learning that the county clerk in Boulder, Colorado was issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Adams, a naturalized U.S. citizen, married Sullivan who is Australian. The couple returned home to Los Angeles and Richard Adams immediately filed a green card petition with INS on Sullivan’s behalf for the spouse of an American citizen. They became one of the first gay couples in American history to legally marry and the first same-sex couple to sue the U.S. government for recognition of their marriage.
Thirty-nine years to the day since Anthony Sullivan and Richard Adams were legally married, Sullivan continues to fight for the right to have their marriage recognized by the federal government. On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the law preventing the U.S. government from recognizing legally married same-sex couples, finding that discrimination against married same-sex couples violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. A few days later, the then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, announced that USCIS would recognize same-sex marriages for immigration purposes.
On April 21, Anthony Sullivan and his attorney, Lavi Soloway, will give the Immigration Service and the Obama administration a unique opportunity to correct an historic wrong and reverse the gross injustice of its denial of the 1975 petition by putting Sullivan on the path to a green card.
“We are asking the government to reopen and reconsider the denial of the marriage-based green card petition filed by Richard Adams in 1975 and to approve that petition. In doing so, the Immigration Service will fulfill the promise of equality guaranteed by the Constitution. Granting our motion and approving this petition is consistent with the recent policies of the administration and the Immigration Service to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. The widows and widowers of gay and lesbian Americans who seek to resolve their immigration status must have access to the provisions of law already available to other surviving spouses of U.S. citizens who are permitted to self-petition for a green card,” said Lavi S. Soloway, a partner in the immigration law firm, Masliah & Soloway. The firm’s partners, Noemi Masliah and Lavi Soloway, founded The DOMA Project in 2010, a pro bono advocacy and education campaign focused on the historic exclusion of married gay and lesbian couples under U.S. immigration law and its lasting effects.
“Although we are sad Richard Adams did not live to see this day, we are optimistic the government will grant this Motion to Reopen and take the necessary steps to fulfill his desire that Mr. Sullivan be granted lawful permanent resident status by issuing a green card on the basis of their marriage. This unprecedented request is a matter of basic decency and tests our American ideals of equality and justice. We are asking the federal government, at long last, to treat this marriage with the dignity and respect it deserves, and, in so doing, to repudiate the unacceptable and hateful language that was used by INS in 1975.” Soloway said.
Listen to QP Exclusive: Interview with Anthony Sullivan, Equal Rights Pioneer
Follow-up Interview with Anthony Sullivan:
For further information, please contact David Valk or Erin Taylor at (323) 577-9365 or [email protected].
23 Years Together, Raising Four Children, Mark and Frédéric Rejoice at Their Approved Green Card Case
In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Mark Himes and Frédéric Deloizy, stepped up to the front lines of the fight against DOMA early on in 2011 by filing a marriage-based green card petition and advocating for full equality for their family. As a foreigner, Frédéric, a French national, had seen both his work visa and his student visa expire, and the time he had left to share with his family was limited under DOMA.
Frédéric and Mark were wed in California in 2008, 18 years after they first met. In two decades together, they have adopted four beautiful children. They welcomed their two oldest, John and Claire, just days after their respective birthdays in 2000 and 2003. On their 19th anniversary in April 2009, Fred and Mark welcomed Jacob and Joshua, both four years old at the time.
Mark and Frédéric have put countless efforts over the past few years into staying together as a family in the United States: building their home, and putting down their roots. On January 11th, last year, they appeared before a Philadelphia Immigration Officer for a “Green Card” interview to put forward the evidence of their two-decades relationship and their marriage to be allowed to stay together with their children in this country.
After twenty-three years together for Mark and Frédéric, this family of six in Pennsylvania was notified that Fred and Mark’s green card case was, at last, approved. Despite the hurdles they faced to stay together as a same-sex binational couple, Fred and Mark decided that they must fight for the green card based on their marriage and today that fight was won at long last.
We rejoice with Mark, Frédéric, John, Claire, Jacob and Joshua, as after a long struggle, this family can resume their lives, treated equally under the law.
Family Celebrates! San Jose Lesbian Couple Receives Green Card, UK Spouse Can Finally Visit Her Children Abroad
On July 15, 2013, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a green card to U.K. citizen, Karin Bogliolo, 72, based on her marriage to U.S. citizen Judy Rickard, 65, making Karin the third gay immigrant in U.S. history to become a lawful permanent resident on the basis of a same-sex marriage.
Karin and Judy attended their green card interview in September, 2012 with their attorney, Lavi Soloway, co-founder of The DOMA Project, who proceeded to persuade the USCIS office in San Jose to put their case on hold for another ten months so that it would be approved immediately after the Supreme Court ruling.
Shortly after being approved, Karin’s green card arrived in the mail – a final physical proof that Judy and Karin had won their fight to remain together as a family in the U.S. Karin Bogliolo can now live in the U.S. with her wife Judy Rickard without fear of separation, and can also travel to visit her children abroad. At last, Karin and Judy celebrate their victory, knowing that their marriage was treated equally under the law.
Gay Couple Receives Green Card: DOMA Project Participants Shaun & John Celebrate and Keep Up The Fight for Equality
This week, Shaun Stent had received his green card in the mail: final physical proof of John and Shaun‘s victory in 13-year fight against DOMA to be able to live in U.S. as a family.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a green card to U.K. citizen, Shaun Stent, on July 11, 2013, based on his marriage to American citizen, John Catuara, making Shaun the second gay immigrant in U.S. history to become a lawful permanent resident on the basis of a same-sex marriage. The couple have been together since 2001. They married in January 2012, and have struggled for thirteen years to be together in this country.
Tom Bercu and Claus Andersbo of Los Angeles become the fourth same-sex couple in the nation to receive a marriage-based green card after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last month. The DOMA Project participants, Tom and Claus, who originally comes from Denmark, have filed their green card application earlier this year in anticipation of the Supreme Court decision and as a statement to the government that they will fight for their right to be treated equally as a family.
Tom and Claus follow in the footsteps of several DOMA Project couples, in Florida, Colorado, and California, in Los Angeles, and Toronto. Just two days after the Supreme Court decision that struck down DOMA, the first “stand alone” green-card petition was approved on June 28, 2013, for another gay couple working with The DOMA Project: Julian Marsh and Traian Popov of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Five days after the Supreme Court decision, Cathy Davis was granted a green card, becoming the first immigrant to become a permanent resident through her same-sex marriage to Catriona Dowling of Colorado.
A second “stand alone” green card petition was also approved for Tom Smeraldo, a gay American living in forced exile in Canada with his Venezuelan husband, Emilio Ojeda. They left the U.S. six years ago to avoid the deportation of Ojeda to Venezuela.
Additionally, the second green card was granted on July 12 to Shaun Stent, based on his marriage to John Catuara, residing in Los Angeles. On the same weekend, Judy Rickard and Karin Bogliolo, a lesbian couple residing in San Jose, California, had also learned that their green card had been issued.
Read more about The DOMA Project victories on the following page.