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Obitfilter: Del Martin
August 27, 2008 3:25 PM   Subscribe

Del Martin, with her partner Phyllis Lyon, were pioneers in so many fields that it's hard to do justice to all of it in one post.

In 1955, the two of them, with four friends, founded the Daughters of Bilitis, the first major lesbian rights organization in the country. They fought for lesbian inclusion and visibility in the National Organization of Women (NOW). Del founded battered women's shelters, LGBT political groups, and spoke out on many social justice issues. Most recently, Del and Phyllis were the first queer couple to get legally married in San Francisco, reprising their role from 2004. Among the many honors given them, perhaps the best was naming the local women's health clinic after them: the Lyon-Martin Health Center, where I got my health care in my first few uninsured years here in the city.

She died earlier today, with her partner by her side. From her obituary:

"Del Martin identified her own legacy in 1984 when she said that her most important contribution was "being able to help make changes in the way lesbians and gay men view themselves and how the larger society views lesbians and gay men." She had the courage to be true to herself when the world offered only condemnation for lesbians. Martin showed all of us how to have what she called “self-acceptance and a good sense of my own self-worth.” Del Martin never backed down from her insistence on full equality for all people and, even at 87 years old, she kept moving all of us closer to her ideal."

She and Phyllis managed to be heroes and pioneers for every generation, from the 50's to today. The world is a little quieter without her.
posted by gingerbeer (78 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by magstheaxe at 3:28 PM on August 27, 2008


Wow. I remember being so very moved looking at the news photos of their wedding earlier this year. 55 years is a very long time to wait for a small measure of acceptance.

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posted by deadmessenger at 3:29 PM on August 27, 2008


Her obituary in the SF Chronicle.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:32 PM on August 27, 2008


I'm really, really glad she made it to her remarriage and lived to see such widespread (if not universal) acceptance. Thanks for the post.
posted by languagehat at 3:34 PM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I know it'll happen for all who have persevered and inspired. It doesn't make it hurt less.

Blessings and strength to Phyllis Lyon and all of Del's mourners. May her work and passion inspire even in her absence.

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posted by batmonkey at 3:34 PM on August 27, 2008


Thanks for leading the way.

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posted by ikahime at 3:35 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by evilangela at 3:44 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by the_bone at 3:45 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by Tholian at 4:03 PM on August 27, 2008


. and ♥
posted by Tehanu at 4:05 PM on August 27, 2008


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Thank you, Del Martin. We owe you so much. My thoughts are with Phyllis.
posted by fiercecupcake at 4:07 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:15 PM on August 27, 2008


Bless her.

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posted by jokeefe at 4:15 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by ottereroticist at 4:22 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by louche mustachio at 4:26 PM on August 27, 2008


λ.
posted by ericb at 4:33 PM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gifts in lieu of flowers may be made to honor Del's life and commitment and to defeat the California marriage ban through the National Center for Lesbian Rights' No On 8 PAC at www.nclrights.org/NoOn8.

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posted by humannaire at 4:41 PM on August 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


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posted by Falconetti at 4:46 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by clarahamster at 4:47 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by rtha at 4:48 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by LobsterMitten at 4:48 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by kuppajava at 4:49 PM on August 27, 2008


. . .

(an ellipsis instead of a single '.' - because although she has passed on, the effort she exerted in furthering the recognition of human dignity and equality have had such a huge impact here in California that her presence will certainly continue to be felt by many. Here's to a remarkable woman.)
posted by numinous at 4:49 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by saffry at 4:51 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by jtron at 4:51 PM on August 27, 2008


ugh, "has had." Sorry, Del!
posted by numinous at 4:51 PM on August 27, 2008


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Such an inspirational woman. Gratifying she was finally able to marry. Twice.
posted by orthogonality at 4:54 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by Trakker at 5:02 PM on August 27, 2008


A life well lived.
posted by Sassenach at 5:13 PM on August 27, 2008


previously.

I'm glad she got the chance to actually marry. My condolences to her widow.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:22 PM on August 27, 2008


From the LA Times obituary: "Her wife, Phyllis Lyon, was by her side, Kendell said."

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posted by Guy Smiley at 5:23 PM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:26 PM on August 27, 2008


There's something about this wedding picture of the two of them... it's just the truest expression of love and dignity I think I've ever seen. I can never look at it without starting to cry.

As a CA resident, I earnestly ask everyone who's been moved by this story and who can spare something to donate to the NO ON 8 campaign -- and please, fellow residents, please come out to the polls in November to keep marriage equal. I can think of no better way to honor the grace, courage, and compassion of these two great heroes who spent their lives fighting for civil and human rights.
posted by scody at 5:41 PM on August 27, 2008 [7 favorites]


I had the pleasure of meeting the brides a fair time ago as a newly out 14 year old, and their lives are an inspiration that never left me.

My thoughts are with Phyllis as well.

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posted by ltracey at 5:45 PM on August 27, 2008


Oh, bless her.
posted by padraigin at 5:50 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by ardgedee at 5:59 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by sonascope at 6:08 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by Stewriffic at 6:14 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:16 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by Saxon Kane at 6:16 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by jonp72 at 6:59 PM on August 27, 2008


Damn it! I was so hoping they could enjoy their marriage for a while to come. This really breaks my heart. They were such a beautiful couple.
posted by pomegranate at 7:00 PM on August 27, 2008


I am so happy that she lived long enough to see the day she was able to marry Phyllis. I cried when pictures of their ceremony were released. I never understood how someone could can relegate such obvious love and devotion to second-class citizen territory. (Tears are stinging my eyes as I type this.)

What a pioneer and an incredible fighter for civil rights. She will be missed.
posted by cmgonzalez at 7:01 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by cmgonzalez at 7:04 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by cadge at 7:09 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by dinty_moore at 7:29 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by matty at 7:41 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by treepour at 7:43 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by allen.spaulding at 7:50 PM on August 27, 2008


It's both inspiring and humbling to think about just how much Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon have done to improve the world over the course of their lives together. Damnit, we need more people like Del Martin in the world-- not fewer.

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posted by palmcorder_yajna at 7:51 PM on August 27, 2008


she was an inspiration to this sexually confused teenager.

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posted by desjardins at 7:52 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 8:16 PM on August 27, 2008


If there's such a thing as real heroism, she personified it.
posted by blucevalo at 8:30 PM on August 27, 2008


Few of us can say we found true love and stuck with it for more than 50 years. Few can say we made fundamental improvements to human rights and dignity for all. What a life to have lived! Thank you Del!
posted by serazin at 9:06 PM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by longsleeves at 10:47 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by polexa at 10:54 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by smartyboots at 11:22 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by needs more cowbell at 11:49 PM on August 27, 2008


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posted by cookie-k at 12:01 AM on August 28, 2008


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posted by Dreama at 12:04 AM on August 28, 2008


. indeed.

Unfortunately when talking about this to my (aged 20 something) friends and co-workers that are gay, none of them knew who she was.

That's what really broke my heart.
posted by kzin602 at 1:08 AM on August 28, 2008


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I'm so sorry to hear this. Wouldn't it have been great if she and her wife Phyllis Lyon lived to see the last gasp of the California anti-civil-rights re marriage laws defeated this fall? But she wouldn't have needed that to know that she was in the right.

Gingerbeer, I'm so glad you referenced the health center named after them.
posted by goofyfoot at 3:23 AM on August 28, 2008


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posted by sperose at 5:12 AM on August 28, 2008


Guy Smiley,

Did the LA Times link say "wife" when you linked it? It does not now; it says partner. Some stories, including this CBS/AP one *are* using "wife." I'm very interested in watching the evolution of what I assume is an editorial decision.

. and ♥ for Del Martin, a true hero; my heart goes out to Phyllis Lyon for her loss.
posted by Morrigan at 6:12 AM on August 28, 2008


. and ♥ indeed
posted by pointystick at 6:13 AM on August 28, 2008


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posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 6:44 AM on August 28, 2008


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posted by Faint of Butt at 7:12 AM on August 28, 2008


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posted by mcbeth at 7:18 AM on August 28, 2008


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posted by Halloween Jack at 7:37 AM on August 28, 2008


She was a hero in a world that's sadly lacking heroes.
posted by notashroom at 8:32 AM on August 28, 2008


Did the LA Times link say "wife" when you linked it? It does not now; it says partner.

Wow, you're right -- they did take it out. (The took out the whole sentence referring to Phyllis being by her side when she died, in fact.) Don't know if there's something nefarious afoot in the editorial offices of the LA Times, or if that sentence just went by the wayside when they updated the obit after it first went up.
posted by scody at 8:58 AM on August 28, 2008


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posted by By The Grace of God at 9:40 AM on August 28, 2008


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posted by desuetude at 10:16 AM on August 28, 2008


I think this CBS/AP story is the same text that was in my original LAT link. The Times now has its own staff-written obituary.
posted by Guy Smiley at 11:58 AM on August 28, 2008


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posted by merelyglib at 12:36 PM on August 28, 2008


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posted by tepidmonkey at 5:41 PM on August 28, 2008


♀♀
posted by desjardins at 1:48 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by jepler at 6:01 AM on August 30, 2008


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