Same-Sex Marriage Pioneer Says Marriage "Never Was Much Of An Issue"

With California ruling on Proposition 8 today, Phyllis Lyon [left], the surviving half of the first gay couple to marry in San Francisco, gives her take on the issue.

Lyon explains that she and her partner of about 50 years, Del Martin — who died last year — never planned to get married. Instead, "a day or so before Mayor Newsom announced that San Francisco would allow marriages, we got a call saying we were going to be the first couple." Lyon and Martin agreed — "luckily," says Lyon, "each of us had just gotten a new pantsuit." Of their youth together, Lyon explains,

We never even thought about getting married back then. It didn't become an issue for a long time — in fact, it never was much of an issue for us. The gay rights movement was new, and there were so many other issues. We wanted a law that would keep people from getting fired because they were gay. We wanted a law that made it illegal to throw people out of their houses because they were gay. We were feminists, and a lot of the feminist movement was opposed to marriage because the institution gave men power over women. We hadn't really thought about marriage, and we'd certainly never thought about getting married ourselves. It wasn't an option.

Now, though, Lyon is hopeful for the future of gay marriage. She says,

It may not be while I'm alive, but eventually it will work out that if two people want to get married, they can get married and it won't matter to whom. We went through this before with people of color. It will be OK.

'It Never Was Much Of An Issue For Us' [LA Times]