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Del Martin

Pioneer Lesbian Activist


Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon: First California Same Sex Marriage

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon: First California Same Sex Marriage

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Dates: May 5, 1921 - August 27, 2008

Occupation: writer

Known for: lesbian activist, married in San Francisco in the first-ever California lesbian wedding ceremony on February 12, 2004 (later declared invalid) and again on June 16, 2008

Also known as: Dorothy L. Martin

About Del Martin:

Del Martin, born in San Francisco, California, in 1921, was briefly married to James Martin. Her partner since February 14, 1953 was Phyllis Lyon. She studied at the University of California and San Francisco State College, and received her doctorate from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in 1987.

Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin formed the first national lesbian organization in the United States, Daughters of Bilitis, in 1955.

Del Martin has been active in many women's organizations, gay and lesbian activist organizations, and such other organizations as the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and the Hemlock Society.

Del Martin began her career as a reporter in San Francisco in 1948 with Pacific Builder and Daily Construction Reports.

Books by Del Martin include Lesbian/Woman (1972) with Phyllis Lyon, Lesbian Love and Liberation (1973), Battered Lives (1976, 1981), and The Male Batterer: A Treatment Approach with Daniel Jay Sonkin and Lenore E. A. Walker(1985). Her work has also appeared in many anthologies and periodicals.

In 2004, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon's life was featured in the documentary film, No Secret Anymore: The Times of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, with filmmaker E. Biren.

On February 12, 2004, San Francisco authorities challenged California's marriage law by issuing a license and performing a wedding ceremony for Phyllis Lyon, 79, and Del Martin, 83. Marriages performed at that time were declared invalid, but after a California Supreme Court decision for marriage equality, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin were married in a ceremony on June 16, 2008.


San Francisco, California

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