In 1975, Adams, who passed away Monday, and Anthony Sullivan, his partner of four years, became one of the first gay couples in the United States to be granted a marriage license, the Los Angeles Times reported.
A liberal clerk in in Boulder, Colo., issued licenses to six same-sex couples in the spring of 1975, including Adams and Sullivan, an Australian who had been in the country on a limited visa and was facing deportation. The two hoped the marriage license would secure Sullivan permanent residency in the United States.
However, Colorado's attorney general declared the Boulder marriages invalid and the Sullivan's petition for residency was denied.
"Attitudes at the time were not supportive, to put it mildly," said Adams' attorney, Lavi Soloway. "They went on the Donahue show and people in the audience said some pretty nasty things. But they withstood it all because they felt it was important to speak out."
Soloway described Adams and Sullivan as "pioneers who stood up and fought for something nobody at that time conceived of as a right, the right of gay couples to be married."
Adams, who worked as an administrator for a law firm until he retired in 2010, is survived by Sullivan; his mother, Elenita; sisters Stella, Kathy, Julie and Tammie; and a brother, Tony.