BREAKING: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom Comments on Death of Gay Marriage Pioneer Del Martin

Moments ago we spoke with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom at the LGBT Caucus at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

08_2We’re sad to report on the death of Del Martin, who, with Phyllis Lyon, became the first same-sex couple to be married in the state of California, both in 2004 and again in 2008. Martin was 87. Newsom married the couple.

Newsom gave an exclusive interview to Towleroad following his remarks. You can watch it above.

Martin_lyonA choked up Newsom also commented on the death of civil rights hero Del Martin from the podium. Said Newsom: "[She was someone who] defined, love, devotion, and constancy. She defined, from my perspective, what marriage is supposed to be about."

Added Newsom, regarding their decision to marry Del and Phyllis in 2004: "We decided to put a human face on the issue. We called Phyllis and Del and asked if they could be that human face so we could bring that suit. We actually started the marriage ceremony before 9am because that’s when the courts were going to open. We proceeded to marry some other couples. The next day we woke up and the headlines were, "The world is coming to an end."…It went on like that for a day or two. They filed another restraining order. The judge said ‘you filled out the forms incorrectly,’ so we had a whole day to say ‘I DO’ and we did. We had no idea. It was just Phyllis and Del that morning, and we had no idea what it would start. To do nothing more extraordinary than Britney Spears did at her first marriage in Las Vegas. We ultimately were stopped by the California Supreme Court. But we were not deterred and we were committed to what we saw as the challenge of our lifetime…[This year] we thought again to call Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon to again be the face of our movement. What a gift. At a time, I didn’t even imagine. Right at this moment, as I speak to you. I get it. We had the gift of a lifetime, and that was the ability to get both of them to say ‘I Do.’ Again. The question now, is are we going to afford that opportunity to thousands of other couple in the state of California? We need your help."

For all our DNC coverage, click here.


  1. the queen says

    wow, rip honey… she was one of the greats… didn’t think she looked too good last time i saw her so i’m not surprised… keep on truckin… my condolences to phyllis

  2. Michael Bedwell says

    Congrats on the interview showing what a great Gavin Newsom is even in this sad, sad, SAD moment. I cochaired a conference featuring the enchanting Phyllis once, and Del barnstormed the country in ’78 with my late friend Leonard Matlovich to raise money to fight the Briggs Initiative Corey recalled.


    Once again you have a chance to take out full page ads in the country’s major papers and magazines and do exactly what Gavin did—put two human faces on the issue of marriage equality and shame much of the opposition into silence or impotence with the simple image of a gentle, loving couple who had to wait FIFTY-FIVE YEARS before they could be legally wed, and who when they heard the dogs barking just kept going!

    Bless them both. And everyone else do as Del would have done; VOTE FOR BARACK OBAMA IN NOVEMBER!

    Gavin Newsom 2016!

  3. Dback says

    My partner and I got married at San Francisco’s City Hall back in those heady February days of ’04. It was so appropriate to have Phyllis and Del as the first couple married by Gavin Newsom, both then and in 2008. Prayers of support to Phyllis, prayers of thanks to Del, and a “right on!” shout-out to Gavin, the ballsiest politician in America.

  4. Zeke says

    Rest in Peace Ms. Del.

    I’m so proud that you were able to pass over as a MARRIED woman! You were a pioneer and a hero. You will be missed.

    Condolences to her wife Phyllis, her family (by blood and by choice) and to her friends.


  5. Michael Bedwell says

    For the record, Del was briefly married to a man, and had a daughter, now in her 60s herself, who was with them when Del & Phyllis tied the knot—those crazy kids—two months ago.

    Jack Nichols in 2005, Barbara Gittings in 2007 [whose last political act was coming out with her partner Kay Tobin to other residents in their assisted-living home’s newsletter], and now Del. We’re losing so many of the great ones to old age, after having lost so many others to AIDS. Our work is not done. Rise up! Rise up, oh ye younger and stronger!

  6. Ted says

    God Bless Del and Phyllis! Their courage and tenacity are inspirations to me. I thank everyone who came before us and tried to make the world a better, safer place for us.

  7. MissizMe says

    RIP, our dearest Del. You strength, your courage and your faith will live in all of us, and we’ll honor your spirit by keeping the flame of true equality alive. God bless you and Phyllis!

  8. CK says

    I am so grateful to Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon for their amazing courage and tenacity in the face of the fierce discrimination and resentment from those opposed to us all having equal rights to be married. Phyllis, I am so very sorry for your loss, but hope that you find comfort in that you were together as a married couple, when Del passed! Bless your heart and soul, Del, you will be a great inspiration to many, for many years to come.

  9. MAJeff says

    It’s worth remembering the Del wasn’t only an LGBT hero, but also a feminist hero. She was among the women who founded NOW (and challenged the “Lavender Menace” bullshit in the early organization), and also published a highly influential book on domestic violence in the 1970s. She was involved in LGBT aging organizing as well. Her life’s work encompasses so much more than the marriage issue. Such a great woman, such a loss.

  10. Gianpiero says

    When I first came out, Del and Phyllis were figures of awe, advocating for equal rights in what seemed, at the time, a distant past. All these years later, their continued commitment to their positions and principles–and to each other, of course–are all the more inspiring, and make this day even sadder. That they were out and open about themselves and their relationship for so many, many years was extremely influential to me. It is a lesson that far too many people still need to learn–may the example of Del and Phyllis continue to teach.

    Newsom’s comments were the most articulate response I have yet heard from a state or local politician in California against Prop 8. Although so many public figures have, rightfully, expressed their opposition to the initiative, we need to start hearing and seeing more. Time is short. Thank you, Mayor Newsom, for your own example.

  11. peterparker says

    Wow. What a terrible, terrible loss to our community! My condolences to Phyllis Lyon on this tragic loss.

    As someone else stated earlier, Del will live forever in her admirable work on behalf of ALL of us! May she rest in peace.

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