Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon


Such close partners that Wikipedia lists them both under the same entry, Dorothy “Del” Martin and Phyllis Lyon were at the vanguard of the 20th century United States’ lesbian rights movement. When police raids locked them and several lesbian friends out of bars and dance venues, they formed the social club that would become the Daughters of Bilitis, with Martin at its head. Their newsletter, The Ladder, was the first of its kind – a nationally distributed lesbian publication. After they moved on, Martin became the first out lesbian elected to the National Organization for Women (NOW), as well as an active participant in the San Francisco political scene. Lyon-Martin Health Services, a clinic for queer women that has been active since the 1970s, was named in their honor.

In addition to being inseparable activists, Martin and Lyon were romantically involved for over five decades until Martin’s death. They were the first couple to wed in San Francisco when same-sex marriage was legalized in 2004, and first in line again when it was re-legalized in 2008.

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