They were once the "lavendar menace," a reference by Betty Friedan to the lesbians who were, in her opinion, undermining the feminist movement 1969 and 1970. Yesterday, they were the first same-sex couple married in San Francisco. What a journey.
As founders of the "homophile" group, Daughters of Bilitis, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon organized a meeting between lesbian mothers and mental health professionals...in 1957! In 1972, their book Lesbian/Woman included a chapter on lesbian mothers. The next year, they authored an article on lesbian mothers for Ms. magazine. When I first wrote about the custody rights of lesbian mothers in 1975, I cited Del and Phyllis's writings just to prove that lesbian mothers existed!
Readers of my book and this blog know that I don't believe law should grant "special rights" to those who marry, to the exclusion of the other forms of family and relationships that enrich people's lives and provide economic and caretaking support. As a matter of civil rights, however, the ability to marry in California is a step towards equality and worthy of celebration. No couple deserves to be first more than Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon; their earlier "firsts" made it possible for those of us who followed to come out and fight for LGBT justice. Thank you, Del and Phyllis, and congratulations on yet another milestone.