Limited Partnership

Limited Partnership

  • BY Thomas G. Miller & Kirk Marcolina | IN Social Justice
    Premiered June 15, 2015

About the Film

Limited Partnership chronicles the 40-year love story between Filipino American Richard Adams and his Australian husband, Tony Sullivan. In 1975, thanks to a courageous county clerk in Boulder, Colorado, Richard and Tony were one of the first same sex couples to be legally married in the world. Richard immediately filed for a green card for Tony based on their marriage.

But unlike most heterosexual married couples who easily obtain legal status for their foreign spouses, Richard received a denial letter from the Immigration and Naturalization Service stating, “You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.” MORE

Outraged at the tone, tenor, and politics of the letter, and to prevent Tony’s impending deportation, the couple decided to sue the U.S. government, initiating the first federal lawsuit seeking equal treatment for a same-sex marriage in U.S. history.

The film follows Richard and Tony’s personal trajectory, which parallels the history of the LGBT marriage and immigration equality movements, from their 1971 meeting at an L.A. gay bar called “The Closet;” to the 1975 signing of their marriage license in Colorado; through the era of AIDS; and all the way up to the historic U.S. Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage in June 2013 and again in 2015.

Through it all, even when confronted by health issues, money woes, and legal challenges, these two trailblazers never wavered in their love, never lost their senses of humor, and never gave up their quest for justice.

The Filmmakers

Thomas G. Miller, Producer/Director

Headshot of Limited Partnership director Thomas G. Miller.Thomas G. Miller has worked on documentaries and in public television since 1994. He associate produced the Sundance award-winning film Licensed to Kill (POV, PBS), and co-produced the recent award-winning film Code Black. He co-produced and edited Fender Philosophers for PBS and Camp Out for Logo TV. He edited the feature documentary films Good Kurds, Bad Kurds and Home of the Brave. He produced and directed the award-winning feature documentary, ONE BAD CAT: The Reverend Albert Wagner Story(Ovation). Other credits include producing television films for Discovery, and WNET’s series on disabilities, People in Motion. Miller is also on the board of the International Documentary Association and has been teaching editing, documentary filmmaking, and mentoring the Sloan Science films at the USC School of Cinematic Arts since 2004. He is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the Writer’s Guild of America, West. He is also a pediatrician and has served as medical consultant forSesame Street and other film and television series. He graduated with a BS degree in zoology from The University of Michigan, an MD from the Medical College of Ohio, and an MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Kirk Marcolina, Producer

Headshot of Limited Partnership producer Kirk Marcolina.Kirk Marcolina has worked in television and documentary filmmaking for nearly 20 years. Most recently, he produced and directed The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, an award-winning documentary about an 80-year-old jewel thief that premiered at Hot Docs in 2013. He also produced and directed the feature documentary Camp Out (Logo TV) about the first Bible Camp for gay teenagers. Marcolina’s television work includes co-executive producing Boy Meets Boy (Bravo), Gay Weddings (Bravo), Switched (ABC Family), and That Yin Yang Thing(TLC). Marcolina also directed the Disney Channel documentary series Bug Juice and has edited many reality-based and documentary series. Marcolina has taught Documentary Production at California State University, Long Beach and was a Trustee of the International Documentary Association. He received his MFA in Film and Video Production from the University of Southern California and his BA in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania. LESS

Film Credits

A Film by
Thomas G. Miller

Produced by
Kirk Marcolina
Thomas G. Miller

Written by
Thomas G. Miller
Kirk Marcolina
Carl Pfirman
Monique Zavistovski

Karen Hori
S. Leo Chiang

Carl Pfirman
Monique Zavistovski
Kirk Marcolina
Thomas G. Miller

Derth Adams
S. Leo Chiang
Nancy Huffman
Kirk Marcolina

Allyson Newman

Featuring (in Order of Appearance)
Richard Adams
Anthony Sullivan
David Brown
Lavi S. Soloway
Joseph Latino
David W. Ross
Cathy Adams
Clela Rorex
Dr. Edward Wang
Anthony Adams
Ellen Adams
Stella Sullivan
Tammie Grant
Julie Roach
Rachael Waters
Fr. Robert J. Mcnamara
Jane Wishon
Benjamin Johnson
Joshua Grannell

Associate Producers
Amy Adler
Rebecca Louisell
David W. Ross
Ellen Defraites

Consulting Producer
Judith Helfand

Post-Production Producer
Eric J. Robbins

Production Sound
Joshua A. Wilkinson

Sound Editor and Mixer
Adam Parrish King

Title and Graphic Design
Marcolina Design, Inc.

Archival Motion Effects and Animation
Zack Ketz

Additional Archival Motion Effects
David Flores
Matt Reed
Adam Sayovitz

Opening Title Concept and Artwork
Xander Brennan
Aaron Harvey

Closing Credits
Doug Whitney

Assistant Editors
Michael Banks
Benjamin Estabrook
Kasey Glickman

Production Assistants
Michael Banks
Michelle Chai
David Erste
Daniel Grove
Max Hoiland
Andrew Jeric
Lalta Keswani
Catrina Kolesar
Matt Montgomery
Adam Revello
Brian Scofield
Joanna Sokolowski
Monely Soltani
Maydelle White

Online Editor
Eric J. Robbins

James Honaker

Post-Production Consultant
Matt Radecki

Video Post Production
Different by Design
HD Cinema

Scoring Engineer and Music Mixer
Daniel Blanck

Matt Novack
Allyson Newman

Score Coordinator
Matt Novack

Score Recorded at
USC School of Cinematic Arts

Sound Mix Facility 
Shapeshifter Post

Leigh Cole
Grace Rutledge

Clip Research and Clearance
Kate Coe
Cristina Ramirez-mares

Legal Services
Donaldson & Calif, LLP

Dewitt Stern of California, LLC
Charles Whelan Insurance Agency Inc.

Court Drawings
Krentz Johnson

Archival Materials Courtesy of 
ABC News Videosource
Cathy Adams
American Immigration Council
AP Archive
Michael Banks
Diana Davies Photographs, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Getty Images
KWGN-TV News Footage Collection, History Colorado, Denver, CO
Metropolitan Community Churches
NBC Universal Archives
One National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries
Rick Ray / Shutterstock
Pat Rocco
Clela Rorex
Konstantin Sutyagin / Shutterstock
UCLA Film & Television Archives
Rachael Waters
Carson Footage supplied courtesy of Carson Entertainment Group
Photograph of Judge Kennedy courtesy of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
“two faggots” film, directed by Richard Jay Silverthorn, courtesy of University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive

Additional Archival Materials
ACLU of Southern California
The Advocate
Albuquerque Tribune
Walter Blumoff
Boulder Daily Camera
Casa Grande Arizona Dispatch
CBS News
Dailey Times Call
Denver Post
Des Moines Register
Entertainment West
Bob Finney
Fox News
Herald Examiner
Indiana Gazette
Journal & Courier
Journal Tribune
Kingsport News
KNBC 4 News
KNTV 11 News
KPCC Radio
KRON 4 News
KWGN 2 News
The Lethbridge Herald
Herb Lightman
Longmont Daily Times-call
The Los Angeles Times
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Naples Daily News
National Public Radio
NBC News
The New Campaign
The New York Times
The Ottumwa Courier
Stan Pantovic
Playground Daily News
Press & Sun Bulletin
The Press-Courier
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Rocky Mountain News
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Examiner
South Mississippi Sun
Stephen Stewart
Syracuse Herald-Journal
Syracuse Post-Standard
Time Magazine
Ukiah Daily Journal
Union-Tribune San Diego
Monique Voegel
Ron Walle
Washington Star
Ron Wilson
Winnipeg Free Press
WTTG 5 News
Yuma Sun

Special Thanks
Brad Altman
California State University, Long Beach, Department of Film and Electronic Arts
John Catuara
Miriam Cutler
Dean Elizabeth Daley
Mark Harris
Kaiser Permanente
Jennifer Kroot
Michael Lumpkin
The Marcolina Family
Masliah & Soloway, PC
The Miller and Martin Famliy
Reverend Troy Perry
George Takei
Jane Wishon

Fiscal Sponsor
International Documentary Association

Executive Producer for ITVS
Sally Jo Fifer

Supervising Producer for ITVS
Jorge Trelles

Independent Lens Deputy Executive Producer
Lois Vossen

Funding Provided by
Ellen Defraites
Doc Club LA
Nancy Dickenson
And others. A complete list is available from PBS.

Limited Partnership is a cc-production of Tesseract Films Corporation, Treehouse Moving Images, LLC and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

This program was produced by Tesseract Films Corporation, which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2014 Tesseract Films Corporation, all rights reserved.

If you had been in Richard and Tony’s position — in a binational relationship overshadowed by the threat of permanent separation — what would you have done? What’s the longest you’ve ever committed to fighting for a cause? Why do you think attitudes in our society have come such a long way on same-sex marriage?


  • 2014 IDA Humanitas
    Documentary Award
  • GLAAD Media Award
    Best Documentary (Nomination)
  • 2014 Woodstock Film Festival
    Audience Award
  • Cinema Q Film Festival
    Audience Award
  • MIX Copenhagen 2015
    Best Documentary
Please review our comment guidelines.
If you had been in Richard and Tony’s position — in a binational relationship overshadowed by the threat of permanent separation — what would you have done? What’s the longest you’ve ever committed to fighting for a cause? Why do you think attitudes in our society have come such a long way on same-sex marriage?