Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lesbian rights pioneer Del Martin dies

Wow, I am sad about this woman's passing.

Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon were the absolute founders of this century's gay and lesbian rights movement. I never knew them, but Del's work and life certainly impacted who I am today. She fought for women's rights and more specifically, for lesbian and gay rights. She fought to have SF police stop raiding gay bars, she was the first out lesbian on the Board of Directors at NOW, she founded the first gay political organization, the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, and founded the very first national lesbian social/political organization, Daughters of Bilitis, and started the first national lesbian newsletter, The Ladder. She and her wife Phyllis Lyon were the first couple married in 2004 when Mayor Gavin Newsom empowered the city of San Francisco to start granting marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, and they were again the first gay or lesbian couple married on 6/16/08, after the California Supreme Court ruled that gay and lesbian marriages were legal and must continue.

What an incredibly inspiring pioneer she was. I can't help but think of all the freedoms I've experienced in my life as a lesbian woman, without being incredibly thankful for Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. The frivolous fun I had in college and after, at dozens of gay and lesbian bars around SF and at 16 consecutive gay & lesbian rights parades; the freedoms and equality I've experienced - that every one of my employers since 1996 has offered health benefits to domestic partners (although I had to actively participate as part of a gay/lesbian employee group at that first one to get them to change their policy); that today I can work as an out lesbian, a lesbian mom no less, that I can be out at my kids' school, and lobby their teachers for equal representation; and not least of all, that in the state of California, I can actually get MARRIED.

All of these freedoms I enjoy are due in some part, to the lifelong efforts of Del Martin. Thank you Del Martin, thank you for everything. My my condolences to Phyllis Lyon.

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