Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Phyllis

You cannot talk about lgbtq heroes without mentioning this lady, Phyllis Lyon.  A former journalist, Phyllis met another incredible woman, Del Martin some 64 years ago, and together they made a lot of history.

The two women were active in the National Organization for Women, Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club (San Francisco), and Old Lesbians Organizing for Change.  They also formed the Council on Religion and the Homosexual.  With six other gay women, they formed the Daughters of Bilitis way back in 1955.  This was way before equal rights were being talked about anywhere and it was the first national lesbian organization in the US.

Phyllis spent over fifty years with Del, and then in 2004, they married when San Francisco began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  Six months later that marriage was voided by the California Supreme Court but there was more legal fighting to come.  That same court legalized same-sex marriage four years later, and in the first same-sex wedding to take place in San Francisco after that ruling, Phyllis and Del again exchanged vows.  Sadly, Del passed away two months later.

Phyllis Lyon has continued the fight.  Proposition 8 took away same-sex marriage for a short time, but the courts finally made same-sex marriage legal again in California and I will always remember that day.  I was in the San Francisco City Hall rotunda awaiting the announcement with a huge crowd gathered, and down the grand staircase came Phyllis Lyon with the Lt Governor on one arm and the Mayor of San Francisco on the other.  I felt sad that her wife couldn't have been there with her.

This fall Phyllis turns 93.  I'll be she is a bit amazed at how much progress we have made in her lifetime, much of which came about thanks to her dedicated work.

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