Image: Phyllis Lyon, Del Martin, Gavin Newsom
Marcio Jose Sanchez  /  AP file
Del Martin, left, places a ring on her partner Phyllis Lyon, right, in this June 16, 2008 file photo during their wedding ceremony officiated by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, center, at City Hall in San Francisco.
updated 8/27/2008 4:43:32 PM ET 2008-08-27T20:43:32

Pioneering lesbian rights activist Del Martin, who married her lifelong partner in June on the first day that same-sex couples here gained that right, has died. She was 87.

Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said Martin died at a San Francisco hospital Wednesday morning, two weeks after a broken arm exacerbated her existing health problems.

Her wife, Phyllis Lyon, was by her side, Kendell said.

Along with six other women, they founded a San Francisco social club for lesbians in 1955 called the Daughters of Bilitis. Under their leadership, the group evolved into the nation's first lesbian advocacy organization.

The couple were married at San Francisco City Hall on June 16. Mayor Gavin Newsom, who officiated the wedding, singled them out to be the first gay couple to legally exchange vows in the city, in recognition of their activism.

The two were among the two dozen couples who served as plaintiffs in the lawsuits that led the state Supreme Court to overturn California's ban on gay marriage in May.

The Daughters of Bilitis was named after book of lesbian erotic poetry first published in Paris in 1894.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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