The Invisible Web

Your Trip Into the Chapel Perilous

Lesbian activist Del Martin dies at 87

Posted by invizweb on August 30, 2008

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By LISA LEFF Associated Press Writer

SAN FRANCISCO—Del Martin, a pioneering lesbian rights activist who with her lifelong partner became a symbol for the movement to legalize gay marriage, died Wednesday morning. She was 87.Martin died at a San Francisco hospital two weeks after a broken arm exacerbated her existing health problems, according to Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Her partner of more than 55 years and wife of just over two months, Phyllis Lyon, was with her.

“Ever since I met Del 55 years ago, I could never imagine a day would come when she wouldn’t be by my side,” Lyon, 83, said in a statement Wednesday.

“I also never imagined there would be a day that we would actually be able to get married,” she added. “I am devastated, but I take some solace in knowing we were able to enjoy the ultimate rite of love and commitment before she passed.”

Martin and Lyon exchanged vows at San Francisco City Hall on June 16, the first day same-sex couples could legally wed in California, after being together for more than half a century.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, who officiated the wedding, singled them out to be the first gay couple to be declared “spouses for life” in the city in recognition of their long relationship and their status as pioneers of the gay rights movement.

“The greatest way we can honor the life work of Del Martin, is to continue to fight and never give up, until we have achieved equality for all,” Newsom.

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