Friday, August 29, 2008
Sad News-Del Martin is gone
08-27) 14:57 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- Lesbian rights pioneer Del Martin, whose trailblazing activism spanned more than five decades, most recently in the battle for same-sex marriage, died Wednesday, just two months after she made history again by wedding her longtime partner in San Francisco City Hall.
Ms. Martin, an author and organizer, died at UCSF Hospice after a long period of declining health. She was 87 and was admitted to the hospital nearly two weeks ago with a broken arm.
Ms. Martin's crusading began in 1955, during an era in America known more for social conformity than for rebellion, when she co-founded a lesbian social-turned-political organization, Daughters of Bilitis, named after a 19th century book of lesbian love poetry.
This year, on June 16, she and her partner of 55 years, Phyllis Lyon, were legally wed. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom officiated. Theirs was among the first same-sex nuptials in California.
"Her last act of activism was her most personal - marrying the love of her life," said Kate Kendell, a longtime friend of the couple and executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights."
While I was still in college and living at home, I kept a post office box to receive the Daughters of Bilitis Newsletter. I am forever grateful to Del Martin and Phillis Lyons for helping a lost teenager in a small Ohio town to discover her true nature.