LGBTQ activist Phyllis Lyon passes away

Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin getting married
Phyllis Lyon, 79, left, and Del Martin, 83, right. February 12, 2004

“Phyllis Lyon is truly an iconic figure in the history of LGBTQ and women’s rights”

Phyllis Lyon, who fought for same-sex marriage in California, passed away of natural causes at her home in San Francisco at age 95. Lyon, with Del Martin, her partner of 58 years were the first same-sex couple to be married in the state of California in June of 2008.

California Governor Gavin Newsome, who had served as the mayor of San Francisco in 2008, officiated the wedding. “Phyllis, it was the honor of a lifetime to marry you and Del,” Newsome Tweeted. “Your courage changed the course of history. Rest in peace, my dear friend.”

Lyon was preceded in death by Martin, who passed away in August of 2008. The couple had been together for 58 years at the time of Martin’s passing.

“I am devastated to lose Del, but I take some solace in knowing we were able to enjoy the ultimate rite of love and commitment before she passed,” Lyon said then.

“Phyllis Lyon is truly an iconic figure in the history of LGBTQ and women’s rights,” said Kate Kendall a longtime friend of the couple. She sent a statement to the Bay Area Reporter. “Her life was marked by courage and the tenacious belief that the world must and could change. She and her love of over 50 years moved from the shadows to the center of civil life and society when they became the first couple to marry in California after Proposition 8 was struck down in 2008. Few individuals did more to advance women’s and LGBTQ rights than Phyllis Lyon.”

J.L. Gaynor
Out In Jersey magazine contributor J.L. Gaynor spent eight years in the newsrooms of two major New Jersey papers. A Jersey girl through and through: born, raised, and educated in New Jersey. Jen now lives in Maryland and has two dogs she adores, and reads just about anything she can get her hands on.