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USCIS Approves Gay Couple’s Immigrant Visa Petition That It Denied 41 Years Ago


USCIS Approves Gay Couple’s Immigrant Visa Petition That It Denied 41 Years Ago

They had already been a couple for four years when, on April 21, 1975, Anthony Sullivan and Richard Adams received a marriage license issued by a Boulder County clerk.  Shortly thereafter, Adams filed an immigrant visa petition so that Sullivan, a citizen of Australia, could eventually become a lawful permanent resident of the United States.  The then-INS Los Angeles District Office denied the petition on November 24, 1975, using only one extremely offensive sentence.

Not willing to give up, Adams and Sullivan brought a lawsuit in federal court, and after ten years of litigation, the couple lost their appeal before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1985.  The court ordered Sullivan to leave the United States within 60 days, and the couple spent almost a year in Europe before returning to the United States, vowing never to be separated.

Adams passed away in December 2012, but Sullivan continued their decades-long fight.  In 2014, Sullivan and his attorney, Lavi Soloway, filed a Motion to Reopen and Reconsider the denied petition in light of numerous recent court rulings permitting same-sex marriage.  Sullivan also wrote to President Obama, requesting an apology for the degrading language used in the 1975 denial.

On August 27, 2014, León Rodriguez, Director of USCIS, issued a heartfelt written apology.  In January 2016, USCIS approved Adams’ prior petition for Sullivan, and Sullivan attended his permanent residence interview in March 2016.  Finally, on April 21, 2016, on what would have been the couple’s 41st wedding anniversary, USCIS approved Sullivan’s green card application, and Sullivan became a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

It is for people like Anthony Sullivan, Richard Adams, and all of our clients with similarly touching stories that the attorneys and staff members at Joseph & Hall P.C. continue in the immigration fight.


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