Richard Adams, a pioneer for gay marriage, has died after a brief illness at 65 in his Los Angeles home.
According to the Associated Press, Adams died on Dec. 17 in the home he shared with his partner of 43 years, Anthony Sullivan.
Sullivan and Adams met at a LA gay bar in 1971, but their life and relationship soon became public.
The two were granted a marriage license in 1975 in Boulder, Colorado by a county clerk who didn't see anything in Colorado law that expressly forbage same sex marriage. She consulted the district attorney's office and began issuing licenses, Policy Mic reported. Sullivan and Adams were among the first six couples to receive a license. However, the state attorney's general eventually ordered the clerk to cease issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, but by that point, Sullivan and Adams had already wed.
However, soon after their wedding, Adams and Sullivan learned that their marriage had no standing in federal court, and therefore they were not allowed to have the same benefits as opposite sex couples. Sullivan was rejected for his permanent US residency.
The letter, which said that "you have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots," spurred a four-decade long battle for equal rights.
The fight continues today. Though four states legalized gay marriage in the US polls this November, earlier this week, Pope Benedict used his annual Christmas message to denounce gay marriage.
However, according to Sullivan, the day before he died, Adams looked at his partner and agreed that though they had early defeats, the couple had succeeded by staying together over the years.