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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Del Martin

posted by on August 27 at 11:41 AM


Del Martin—a pioneer in the gay rights movement, the co-founder in 1955 of the Daughters of Bilitis, one of the first lesbian-rights organizations in the country/world—died today at 87. Martin married her partner of 55 years, Phyllis Lyon, in California on June 16, 2008, the day that same-sex marriage became legal in that state. (Martin is on the left in the photo above.)

“Today the LGBT movement lost a real hero,” Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in a statement released moments ago. “Her last act of public activism was her most personal—marrying the love of her life after 55 years. In the wake of losing her, we recognize with heightened clarity the most poignant and responsible way to honor her legacy is to preserve the right of marriage for same-sex couples, thereby providing the dignity and respect that Del and Phyllis’ love deserved.”

Our sympathies go out to Mrs. Martin’s widow.

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Wow how great that she was able to marry and leave the partner who stood by her for all those years with the status of widow. Anyone who could want to take that away from her... it boggles the mind.

Posted by hillpagan | August 27, 2008 11:51 AM

Now let's imagine them in their scissor form.

Posted by should have turned the comments off | August 27, 2008 11:51 AM

Wow. This is absolutely heartbreaking.

I think we should all donate more money to California in her memory to help keep same sex marriage legal.

What a true hero. RIP.

Posted by Original Monique | August 27, 2008 11:52 AM

@2: Don't be an ass Poe.

Posted by Original Monique | August 27, 2008 11:54 AM

Strangely enough, the most optimistic line of this story is also the saddest:

"Our sympathies go out Mrs. Martin’s widow."

Posted by ReverendZ | August 27, 2008 11:54 AM

It's sad, and Phyllis Lyons certainly deserves sympathies, as any widow or widower would.

Is it really "heartbreaking," though? Martin was 87 years old; that's a pretty long life.

Posted by LDP | August 27, 2008 11:57 AM

Aww man. I was reading their story from a few different sources after their marriage. It sounded like Del wasn't doing too well then... sad. Yet great that they were able to be married (and it damn well better not be rescinded in November).

Posted by leek | August 27, 2008 11:58 AM

She was a great lady.

Posted by Darcy | August 27, 2008 11:58 AM

Thanks Del, I'm glad you ended your life as a married woman and were able to spend your final moments with your wife.

You deserved all the happiness in the world.

Posted by Scott | August 27, 2008 12:04 PM

I will beMr. Poe" for the day.

Posted by should have turned the comments off | August 27, 2008 12:05 PM

That guy in the middle is cute. Sympathies.

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 27, 2008 12:05 PM

This is a reminder that we should be fighting for marriage equality everywhere. Not every couple is lucky enough to live in one of the two states where same-sex marriage is available, and many people will die without ever having the chance to marry the person they spend their lives with. As personally sad as I am that such a courageous woman has died, I'm even sadder thinking of all the people that will never have this chance in their lifetimes.

Posted by ryan | August 27, 2008 12:07 PM

She must have been very gratified to go out on such a high note. She was able to participate in part of the equality she spent her life trying to achieve before she died.

Posted by inkweary | August 27, 2008 12:08 PM

I think we should celebrate Del Martin's life and achievement, as we mourn her passing. At 87, her death is not a huge surprise nor a huge tragedy. We'll all go someday. But most of us won't have stood for something for as long as she did. We should honor her memory for that. 1955 was a long, long time ago. I'm so glad she was able to have her marriage recognized by the state at long last before she went. It's a great legacy.

Posted by Fnarf | August 27, 2008 12:23 PM

God rest her soul.

Posted by James | August 27, 2008 12:28 PM


Maybe the world doesn't entirely suck.

Posted by violet_dagrinder | August 27, 2008 12:33 PM

I can't stop looking at that picture. People who live their lives fully, wrapped in love and with all the courage of their convictions, just seem to emanate light and strength, even as their physical forms bow and shrink with age.

She looks like she could bear the weight of the world on her shoulders, and in important ways she has been carrying 4-10% of us.

Deep gratitude to her and her wife.

Posted by rob | August 27, 2008 1:05 PM

Would be nice if Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon could get a shout-out from the rostrum at the Democratic convention, but that'll never happen.

Posted by rob | August 27, 2008 1:26 PM

weight of the world? She has fucking osteoporosis. Her sweater probably caused unbearable pain and strain on her back.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 27, 2008 1:47 PM

OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Thank you, Del Martin, for doing 1000 things for me I was too much of a pussy to ever do for myself. Giant leaders aren't all speaking from a podium in Denver...I hope there's a heaven and you're in it tonight.

Condolences to Phyllis.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | August 27, 2008 2:36 PM

@19: Look at her eyes and her smile, man. Have you no sense of the transcendent?

Posted by rob | August 27, 2008 3:29 PM

Anyone know where to send a bereavement gift?

Posted by Ben Lyon | August 27, 2008 3:49 PM

@22: The NoOn8 campaign sent the following in a statement:

As was her wish, in lieu of flowers, gifts can be made to honor Del's life and commitment by defeating the California marriage ban. To make a gift, please click here:

Posted by a.m. | August 27, 2008 4:48 PM

@11: That guy looks like San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Posted by Jenny | August 27, 2008 5:47 PM

@17 & 21: I can't stop looking at that picture. People who live their lives fully, wrapped in love and with all the courage of their convictions, just seem to emanate light and strength, even as their physical forms bow and shrink with age.

I was thinking the same thing, but you said it much more eloquently than anything I could muster. She is radiantly beautiful in that picture (and an incredible inspiration.) My condolences to her widow.

Posted by Shelley | August 27, 2008 5:57 PM

Thanks 23...

Posted by Ben Lyon | August 28, 2008 8:17 AM

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