11/01/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A Hero in the Struggle for Marriage Equality

Today in San Francisco City Hall we celebrate the life of an extraordinary woman and a true civil rights pioneer.

As we gather to remember the life of Del Martin, in the very same building where she was recently married to her spouse of more than 50 years, we commemorate her service by vowing to continue to fight for the causes she championed for so long and so well.

Del Martin was an activist, a mother and grandmother, a leader in the fight for equality and, most importantly - the spouse of Phyllis Lyon. I was honored to be present at the marriage of Phyllis and Del nearly four years ago, when they were the first couple married in San Francisco's remarkable "Winter of Love."

Just a few short months ago, I was touched when Phyllis and Del asked me to preside at their marriage ceremony, held after the California Supreme Court confirmed that separate is not equal, and that marriage equality is a right and privilege guaranteed to all Californians.

It felt like our whole city was there to bear witness to the remarkable love, life and work of Phyllis and Del. The two of them lived their lives out loud. They are heroes in the struggle for marriage equality.

Today we celebrate the life of Del Martin, and we gather to support Phyllis Lyon, at a moment when everything they worked for is under attack.

Thanks in large measure to the struggle and sacrifice of Del and Phyllis, gays and lesbians can finally legally marry in California.

But Proposition 8 on our state's November ballot seeks to eliminate that right. This attack is led by those that wish to permanently enshrine discrimination in the California constitution - in defiance of the decision by the California Supreme Court to affirm marriage equality.

The theoretical debate about marriage equality is over. This fight - the fight against Proposition 8 - is about our friends and neighbors, our teachers and students, our firefighters and family members. This fight is about equality for them and their continued right to enter into loving and committed relationships.

Proposition 8 would turn back the clock and eliminate the ability to marry for millions of our fellow Californians.

That's why, today, we shouldn't leave flowers in memory of Del Martin. We can honor her service best by helping defend the cause she championed her entire life - equality for all.

Del and Phyllis started the struggle for marriage equality in California. It's up to us to finish it.