People For the American Way

People For the American Way Mourns Del Martin, Equal Rights Pioneer


Contact: Peter Montgomery or Josh Glasstetter at People for the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

WASHINGTON, D.C.—People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert released the following statement:

“We are greatly saddened by the passing of such an extraordinary and courageous woman. Del Martin and her partner of 55 years, Phyllis Lyon, fought for decades to secure equal rights for all Americans regardless of sex or sexual orientation. In recognition of their legendary struggle, Del and Phyllis became the first same-sex couple to wed in California after the state Supreme Court mandated equal marriage rights for gay men and lesbians.”

“We can see in retrospect that the ruling came just in time for Del and Phyllis to gain what they so dearly deserved — equal state legal recognition and rights for their 55 years together. It’s wonderful that the recent legal advances in California enabled such a fitting tribute.

“Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon have been an inspiration in my life and work for years. In July, I had the great honor of meeting Phyllis and presenting her with a book containing more than 8,000 congratulatory wedding messages from People For the American Way members.

“We express our deepest condolences to Phyllis and to Del and Phyllis’s other family and friends. In the coming months and years, we will do all we can to honor Del’s memory and push ahead in the fight for equality that she and Phyllis so nobly advanced.”

About People For the American Way

People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and build a democratic society that implements the ideals of freedom, equality, opportunity and justice for all. We encourage civic participation, defend fundamental rights, and fight to dismantle systemic barriers to equitable opportunity. Learn more: