Limited Partnership

June 15, 2015

by

Thomas G. Miller , Kirk Marcolina , and Karen Hori

Limited Partnership is the love story of a gay couple's 40-year fight for the right to marry, paving the way for the defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act.

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About the Documentary

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.”

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

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 for Sesame 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

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.

Karen Hori

Karen Hori s a production executive with Langley Productions, the company behind the long-running documentary series COPS, where her responsibilities include developing new programming as well as overseeing operations for the company at large. She has served as Supervising Producer and/or Executive in Charge of Production on several non-fiction series including Vegas Strip, Inside American Jail, Video Justice and Anatomy of Crime. Prior to joining Langley, Karen was a producer for syndicated news magazine shows Personalities and Entertainment Daily Journal, and production manager for the feature documentary Marilyn: Something’s Got to Give. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the International Documentary Association.

Full Credits

Awards

  • 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

Learn more about the documentary

Join the Discussion

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?

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