Saturday, September 27, 2008

Celebration of the Life of Del Martin LGBT Rights' Leader

Pictured right in younger days. Del Martin is on the right: Phyllis Lyon her legal spouse in on the left.

Civic Celebration of the Life of Del Martin Scheduled for October 1, 2008
Beloved civil rights leader to be honored at San Francisco City Hall; Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others to pay tribute

(San Francisco, CA, September 24, 2008)—Family, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, elected officials, community leaders, and performers will honor the life of Del Martin, one of the nation’s first and most visible lesbian rights activists, on Wednesday, October 1 at 2:00 p.m. in the Rotunda of San Francisco City Hall. Martin’s many contributions shaped the modern lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT), as well as feminist civil rights movements. Martin, 87, passed away on August 27, 2008 in San Francisco.

In a program featuring tributes by Mayor Gavin Newsom, Reverend Cecil Williams, political activist and feminist Aileen Hernandez, Ambassador James C. Hormel, writer Jewelle Gomez, poet Jan Mirikitani, and National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell, Martin will be remembered for her transformative civic contributions. The celebration will include performances by the Glide Ensemble, Sistah Boom, Linda Tillery, Holly Near, Margie Adam, and Ellen Seeling, Montclair Women’s Big Band director.

Over more than five decades, Del Martin helped shape the modern feminist and LGBT movements. She was a tenacious and tireless fighter for equality and the rights of LGBT people, women, particularly battered women, and older Americans.

Martin began working as an activist after receiving her degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley. While working on a newspaper in Seattle, Martin met her partner Phyllis Lyon and the two began working on behalf of lesbians in their community. Martin and Lyon have devoted their lives to working towards LGBT equality, women’s rights, healthcare access, advocacy on behalf of battered women, and issues facing elderly Americans. Their many contributions over the past five decades helped shape the modern LGBT movement.

Del Martin met her partner Phyllis Lyon in 1950, in Seattle, where they both worked for a building trade publication. In 1955, Martin and Lyon were among the founders of the Daughters of Bilitis, the first lesbian rights organization. In 1956, they launched “The Ladder,” the first lesbian magazine, which became a lifeline for thousands of women isolated and silenced by the restrictions of the era. Del Martin was the first openly lesbian woman elected to the board of the National Organization of Women (NOW), and in 1971, encouraged the board to pass a resolution stating that lesbian issues were feminist issues. Lesbian/Woman by Martin & Lyon, published in 1972, was a landmark book that described lesbian lives in a positive way virtually unknown at the time. In 1976 Martin wrote Battered Wives which was a catalyst for the movement against domestic violence. In 1995, Martin and Lyon were named delegates to the White House Conference on Aging by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. In 2004, Lyon and Martin became the first same-sex couple to be married in the state of California, and subsequently became plaintiffs in the California marriage case, helping to ensure that the fundamental right to marry under the California Constitution belongs to all couples, including same-sex couples.

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon were married in California on June 16, 2008 after 55 years together.

Contributions can be made to honor Martin’s life and commitment and to defeat the California marriage ban through NCLR’s No On 8 PAC at

Friday, September 26, 2008

Obama vs. McCain Debate in Oxford, Mississippi: My Reaction

I watched the debate between Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain which took place at the University of Mississippi (Old Miss) tonight. I came away with a pretty ho hum feeling given the high tension that took place before the debate, it was really kind of a let down though I did feel Obama showed great composure and better grasp of the issues than McCain especially when it came to describing the path he wants to take in the future which would focus more attention on the needs here at home i.e. health care, children's issues, and emphasis on a pursuit of alternative energy sources, rather than an overemphasis abroad. Too bad Obama did not have a chance to expound further on that point as it would have sounded better than McCain's same old dogmatic take on world events and outworn ideas about what to do for the folks at home. Neither Obama or McCain talked about what would happen to ordinary people and what is happening to ordinary people as a result of our economic failures. Quite amazing given the fact so many domestic issues have been neglected for so long. The news analysts seem to think the debate was pretty much a draw with Obama winning on the "being a gentleman" front Obama was given points when he agreed with McCain, ",John you are right" and also got points in terms of having an in depth knowledge of foreign affairs but we already knew that, right?. If it is true that Barack Obama is really about change, endemic change in this country, change that would really help the poor, the working class, and the so called middle class that is failing, I didn't hear much on that score.

Obama is too worried about being called a liberal by someone like McCain yet alone a radical thinker which it appears he is not. FDR sounded like a far left radical back in his day. The economic times of his era made FDR into a real person. What kind of man will Obama become when he finally has to come to grips with what is going on in America today. Well, as they say "half a loaf is better than no loaf" and McCain is no loaf so I will stick with Obama and hope he rises to the occasion, better late than never and I think he will. Another way to look at it is these are different times than the dark days of the 30's. America has moved way to the right and now the prospect of the pendulum swinging left again is not even in the vernacular of the common person on the street or in the media. The best a few right wing Senators can get out is we are moving toward "big government" or when really pressed "I can't vote for this package meaning the bailout of corporate America. "It is Socialism and UnAmerican". Neither candidate seems to know where they stand on the bailout package though McCain said "sure' when asked if he would support it though it is not completed yet. Obama was not asked the same question. I think Obama should be with his own Party, and supportively behind the hard work that Barney Frank and Chris Dodd and others on the finance committee have worked on to this point. He should be urging his countrymen to support the package, the whole deal and the especially the part that helps out the little guy and that should be that. If it doesn't work, at least the Dems did their best to clean up the Republican mess and Obama would look stronger for having stood up to the naysayers and pessimists who are mainly on the other side and not in his own party. This is what he should have done somehow at the debate, stood up and over the shoulders of negative backward thinking John McCain. Obama did well in the debate but I must say deep down "I still ain't satisfied".

Sharon Raphael