Lesbian pioneers Phyllis Lyon, 83, and Del Martin, 87, who have been together 55 years, became the first same-sex couple in San Francisco to legally marry Monday.
The ceremony, conducted by San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom, took place in the mayor’s office, beginning at 5:01 p.m., when the state officially began to allow same-sex marriages. This video from the San Francisco Chronicle shows the newlyweds entering into the City Hall rotunda for the reception in their honor, met by throngs of cheering well-wishers and media.
Newsom drew applause from the crowd as he called Lyon and Martin “two extraordinary people, that have lived extraordinary lives, that have spent the greater part of a half century, fighting for justice, fighting for equality, fighting for their right to live the way so many of us frankly take for granted.” Among Lyon and Martin’s achievements as longtime activists: co-founding the first lesbian organization in the United States, publishing one of the nation’s first lesbian magazines and most recently winning the right for same-sex couples to marry as plaintiffs in the case that persuaded the California Supreme Court that it’s unconstitutional for the state to deny them that right.
At Lyon and Martin’s wedding reception on Monday night, Newsom, who kicked off the California same-sex marriage issue in 2004 by issuing Martin and Lyon a marriage license, which was later ruled invalid by the courts, crowed: “Today, we can confidently say is the first day in the state of California that we are providing marriage equally and fairly to everyone, denying no one their right and their opportunity to live their lives out loud.”
Lyon got a laugh when she told the crowd: “When we first got together, we weren’t really thinking about getting married.”
Dozens of other same-sex couples around the state married last night, at county clerks’ offices that stayed open late for the historic occasion. There’s expected to be a crush of same-sex celebrations in the weeks and months to come, although gay and lesbian Californians’ right to marry is still threatened by an upcoming November ballot initiative, which would write discrimination into the state Constitution, by amending it to limit marriage to straight couples.