Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Del Martin

An activist for over 50 years, Del Martin was a founder in 1955 of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), the first national organization devoted to lesbian rights. Born Dorothy Taliaferro in San Francisco, she married James Martin when she was 19, had a daughter, and left the marriage after a few years when she realized her attraction to women. Working in Seattle, she fell in love with a co-worker, Phyllis Lyon, and they returned to San Francisco in 1953 and set up a household together. Two years later, they helped turn a lesbian social club into the DOB. Martin was its first president, and later edited its magazine, The Ladder. With other San Francisco activists, she helped found the Council on Religion and the Homosexual in 1964, which campaigned for acceptance of gays and lesbians in religious institutions. She and Lyon co-authored Lesbian/Woman (1972), an early defense of lesbians and a call to come out. Martin later served on the board of directors of the National Organization for Women; was a founder of the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, the first such organization in the U.S.; and wrote Battered Wives (1976), which exposed the hidden problem of domestic violence. On June 16, 2008, she and Lyon became the first same-sex couple to legally marry in California. Martin died two months later, after injuries from a fall.