Naturally, when news of the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality came down, a 5-4 vote that the Constitution guarantees a right to same sex marriage, our thoughts immediately turned to the makers and main character of Limited Partnership.
We heard from the film’s co-producer Kirk Marcolina, and from Tony Sullivan, who with his longtime partner Richard Adams become one of the first same sex couples to be legally married in the world, in 1975. That marriage was challenged legally and they battled the government in the courts for years, in large part leading up to the Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage in June 2013 and again this month. Their reactions to Friday’s momentous news:
“I was at home [when he heard the news]. I chose to spend the day alone. I think my first reaction was to think of my beloved Richard who should have been here. I know that I cried a lot thinking of him during the day. I love him so much. I know that I experienced relief that this particular battle was over, joy.
“Another reaction was happiness that Judge Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion. He was the judge who had written the decision against Richard and I that forced us to leave the country in 1985. It confirmed my belief that we humans are always subject to the possibility of change and growth for the better. Personally, that means a lot to me. [I thought] about all the people who had contributed to this issue, going all the way back to 1967 when Jack Baker and Michael McConnell attempted to get a marriage license in Minnesota. They went to the court but were turned down. I thought of Reverend Troy Perry and the members of Metropolitan Community Churches who, before Stonewall, partook of Holy Unions which were gay and lesbian religious marriages. They put forward the position that we could love each other and our relationships had meaning when the laws still classified [us] as sexual deviants and perverts, and condemned so many of us to jail. I thought of everyone who had added to the battle for marriage equality, everyone who got legally married prior to the ruling. I think of them all as heroes. I also thought of my love for our community.
“What now? There is still much to be done on many issues. I am sure that we will sort all that out in the coming days but there is nothing wrong if we take a little time to rest.”
“What a wonderful day. But the road to marriage equality hasn’t come easily, or as quickly as some think. It’s because of pioneers like Richard and Tony that we’ve arrived at this momentous ruling. It’s incredible to think that less than 30 years ago a much younger Judge Anthony Kennedy, sitting on the Court of Appeals, refused to see Tony’s marriage to Richard as valid, and allowed Tony to be deported. How times have changed, with Justice Kennedy writing today’s landmark ruling affirming the right to same-sex marriage. As Tony put it, ‘He’s redeemed himself. And we should always be grateful when people do that, because we all must be open to change.’”
Limited Partnership is available to watch online on PBS.org until July 15, 2015.