April 10, 2020
GLAD mourns the passing of lesbian activist and pioneer Phyllis Lyon. A civil rights trailblazer in the gay liberation movement, Lyon will forever be missed.
She and her partner, Del Martin, were the first same-sex couple to marry in San Francisco on two occasions – first in 2004 when the mayor ordered marriage licenses to be provided (a marriage that was voided by the state’s Supreme Court later that year) and again in 2008 when marriage was brought back to the state. Lyon and Martin, who passed away in 2008, brought many other firsts to the LGBTQ community. They co-founded the first lesbian civil rights organization in the United States, the Daughters of Bilitis, in 1955 and published the first lesbian publication The Ladder, the official magazine of the Daughters of Bilitis. The couple’s work was a driving force for the inclusion of lesbian issues in the burgeoning women’s movement. And in 1995, they were named delegates to the White House Conference on Aging, bringing an LGBTQ lens to that critical work.
GLAD had the pleasure of honoring Lyon and Martin at the 2003 Spirit of Justice Award Dinner.
We celebrate their many individual and collective victories for civil rights. And we send our sincerest condolences to their family and friends.