Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle, and Same-Sex Marriage
This month, I’m celebrating the equality of marriage. The Art of Detection is a Kate Martinelli novel with two timelines, one of which is in the spring of 1924, when (according to the Mary Russell memoirs) Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell spent some time in San Francisco. But maybe they didn’t. Maybe the story of Sherlock Holmes and the transvestite singer is something Arthur Conan Doyle invented in a fever dream during his Spiritualist tour of 1923. In either case, “The Marriage of Billie Birdsong” is available as a free story this month, lifted whole from the larger tale. And we’ll be doing a sweepstakes giveaway beginning tomorrow—signed books! Wedding festivities! Yay!
Newsom had heard President George Bush, in his State of the Union address, declare that the US needed a federal amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and decided that enforcing California’s Constitution required him to extend equal protection to all, not just heterosexuals.
The first wedding that day was of Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin.
Del and Phyllis had lived together in San Francisco since 1953. Both women spent their lives fighting for gay rights—in law, in the Church, in health services and politics, and in the minds of the world.
For four short weeks, joyous celebrations took place in City Hall. Then the California Supreme Court ordered a halt. All the marriages were declared void a few months later.
But four years later, the court reversed its decision, declaring that two people could marry in the state of California, regardless of the sex on their birth certificates.
Del and Phyllis had their second wedding on June 16, 2008. Again, theirs was the first wedding of the day, performed by mayor Newsom. Del died two months later, in August 2008.
“The Marriage of Billie Birdsong” can be found, free of charge, this month on the web page for The Art of Detection. If you enjoy it, you might want to order a copy or ten of the novel itself, either as a signed paperback, or as an e-book from your local Indie, from Barnes & Noble/Nook, or from Amazon/Kindle.