A 72-year-old widowed gay immigrant reopened his marriage-based green card petition today, four decades after it was first denied by federal officials in Los Angeles.
Anthony Sullivan, of Hollywood, asked in a filing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Los Angeles that the agency retroactively approve his late husband's 1975 green card petition and convert it to a widower's petition, giving the surviving spouse the right to apply for permanent residency in the United States.
The Obama administration allows same-sex marriages to be recognized for immigration purposes. However, decades ago, Sullivan and his spouse, Richard Adams, lost their bid to win immigration benefits, according to Sullivan's attorney, Lavi Soloway.
Adams died in December 2012, Soloway said.
In a letter dated Nov. 24, 1975, and addressed to Adams, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service wrote a single sentence to deny the petition: "You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots," according to Soloway.
Sullivan and Adams filed suit, demanding that the federal government recognize their marriage for immigration purposes. Following 10 years of litigation, the couple lost in a final ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Sullivan is renewing his petition as the widower of an American citizen.
Soloway said Sullivan's new request is consistent with routine procedure available to opposite-sex couples in similar circumstances.
Sullivan and Adams wed in 1975 after learning that the county clerk in Boulder, Colo., was issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, Soloway said.
The couple returned home to Los Angeles and 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 federal government for recognition of their marriage, the attorney said.
--City News Service