Marriage and immigration. Objective or obstacle? In this documentary, “Limited Partnership,” the objective is marriage, a marriage performed but not recognized by the government. The topic is timely and reminds us of just how far gay rights have come. The documentary follows the plight of two men, one American and one not, but both gay and both dedicated to each other.
In 1975, Filipino-American Richard Adams and Australian Tony Sullivan were one of the first same-sex couples to be legally married and because Sullivan was not an American citizen. They were married in Boulder, Colorado and it was the beginning of a long journey of love.
The American Immigration and Naturalization Service quickly came down on these two and denied Sullivan a green card as the spouse of an American because the couple was told via an official letter: “You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.” The couple wasn’t deterred; they sued the U.S. government and filed the first federal lawsuit for equal treatment for same-sex marriages.
The documentary catches the couple at the end of their time together, but the U.S. government never succeeded in separating them. The death of one of the “partners” during the filming adds a certain melancholy. Director Thomas G. Miller brings us their story through interviews, archival photos and movie clips. These two men were pioneers and not quiet about their concerns. For that reason, they became heroes in the gay and lesbian communities nationwide.
Those who have doubts about same-sex union, the documentary shows how a limited partnership can be as real and as tender as a heterosexual marriage. This should be proof enough, although we shouldn’t need proof at all. What we need is more love and writers Kirk Marcolina with Miller fully recognize this.
I was surprised to learn that Asian Pacific Islanders Americans helped set history. This doc should be on everyone’s list for Asian Pacific Islander Heritage month. The movie won the Audience Award at the Aspen Filmfest, the Audience Award at the Woodstock Film Festival and the HBO Films Best Producer Award at the Savannah Film and Video Festival.