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Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon Wed

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Yesterday, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon were the first couple to get married under California's new law. I saw the article by Jesse McKinley - Same-Sex Marriages Begin in California. I thought,"Wow what an excellent choice." I read the article to see if the author actually explained WHY it was an excellent choice. He didn't. While McKinley notes:
The selection of Ms. Martin and Ms. Lyon as San Francisco's first same-sex couple was symbolic; the couple wed here in 2004, when the city broke state law by issuing more than 4,000 marriage licenses and conducting weddings in City Hall. Those marriages were later invalidated by the state Supreme Court.
Yes, that might be one reason their being married first was "symbolic," but it is not the most important reason. Lyon and Martin are Mothers of activism. The were in the forefront of both the Women's and Gay Liberation movements. They started the first (as far as I know) lesbian major lesbian organization in 1955 called the Daughters of Bilitis. In 1956, they (with several other DOB women) started the magazine The Ladder. It was no accident that they started the magazine as both were journalism majors. Over the decades, Lyon and Martin have stayed as steadfast to the movement as they have to each other. So the symbolism of their being the first couple married under California law is not simply because they were among those whose 2004 vows were overturned by the court. It is symbolic because they were among the first to start the activist struggle towards equality for gays and lesbians (at least who are still living). The "Daughters" were preceded by the Mattachine Society in the 1920s which was primarily a gay male human rights organization. However, no one has been more fundamental and consistent in the movement than Del Martin and Phyllis Lyons. CONGRATULATIONS! For more information check out the GLBTQ Social Sciences Encyclopedia.

 

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Rowan Wolf is an activist and sociologist living in Oregon. She is the founder and principle author of Uncommon Thought Journal, and Editor in Chief of Cyrano's Journal Today.

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