When asked what their most important contribution had been, Lyon and Martin answered by saying: "being able to help make changes in the way Lesbians and Gay men view themselves & how the larger society views Lesbians and Gay men."
In this website you will find memorial tributes, biographical information, and ways to contribute in Phyllis' honor.
From Kate Kendell:
"Few individuals contributed more to issues impacting LGBTQ, women’s, civil rights and the rights of elder Americans than Phyllis Lyon and her partner of 58 years Del Martin. Phyllis and Del were the first same-sex couple to marry in California on June 16, 2008. Weeks later, on August 27, 2008, Del Martin died in San Francisco, with Phyllis at her side. Del was 87."
The couple’s wedding in 2008 was not their first. In 2004, when then San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom boldly determined to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California, their story- 54 years together and a lifetime of love and commitment, reverberated around the world. While that marriage was invalidated by the California Supreme Court, the ability to marry again in 2008 meant a great deal to Phyllis.
Phyllis and Del met when Del joined the staff of the Seattle magazine where Phyllis was working and the two became lovers in 1952. The couple relocated to San Francisco and moved into a flat on Castro Street together on Valentine’s Day 1953.
In San Francisco, Phyllis and Del embarked on a lifelong career of activism. In 1955, along with three other lesbian couples, they co-founded the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB). DOB was the first political and social organization for lesbians in the United States. Shortly after founding DOB, the couple began publishing The Ladder, the first monthly lesbian publication focused on politics, fiction, poetry and connecting lesbians across the country. The founding of DOB and the publication of The Ladder, continuously from 1956-1972, were acts of immense political courage at a time of unchecked harassment and violence directed at “homosexuals,” largely at the hands of law enforcement and political officials.
In 1979 activists established Lyon-Martin Health Services-named in honor of Phyllis and Del. The family requests that gifts in honor of Phyllis be made to the Lyon-Martin Health Clinic as linked above.
In addition to her family, a community of millions mourns the loss of this fierce “Lyon” who made the freedom of women and LGBTQ people her life’s work.