Along with NOW activists everywhere, I am terribly saddened at the passing of longtime NOW and lesbian rights activist Del Martin. We extend our love and condolences to Del’s wife, Phyllis Lyon, who was her partner in life and in activism for more than half a century.
Del was truly an inspiration to me and to countless others who fight every day for Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender rights. Marriage equality was a passion for Del and Phyllis, and they were married not once but twice in California — most recently this June, when they became the first couple to wed after same-sex marriage became legal in the state.
Del authored the groundbreaking book Battered Wives, among many impressive accomplishments during her 87 years. Together with Phyllis, Del founded the first national lesbian rights organization, the Daughters of Bilitis, in 1955 and wrote another pivotal book, Lesbian/Woman.
At NOW’s Lesbian Rights Summit in 1999, I was honored to present Del and Phyllis with Woman of Courage Awards. They stood before a standing-room-only crowd and noted how far we’ve come as a movement; Del emphasized the need “to unite as never before and face the grip that the extreme right wing holds over our country.”
We owe a great deal to Del. She was a true pioneer who never tired, never gave up on her mission to secure full equality for each of us. Del’s work will continue to touch the lives of future generations, and her spirit will live on in the work of NOW and our allies.