American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

Washington Post Profiles AFER Plaintiffs Fighting for Marriage Equality

In a lengthy feature in the Washington Post, reporter Robert Barnes profiles one of the couples challenging Prop. 8 with AFER:

In BURBANK, Calif. — At the center of the Supreme Court’s preeminent case of the term — the one that holds the potential for redefining marriage in America — are a couple whose chief attribute is how conventional they strive to be.

Jeff Zarrillo, 39, manages the big multiplex movie theater in downtown Burbank, and Paul Katami, 40, is a fitness instructor. They have lived for nine years in a small but handsome house just past the second speed bump on a quiet, suburban street. It is a neighborhood where American flags are plentiful and interest in the school board election appears high.

It’s the moving stories of couples like Paul and Jeff that are at the heart of our case for marriage equality:

“They are a real couple,” said Adam Umhoefer, executive director of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group organized to challenge Prop 8. “They live in a house in the suburbs, with kids going by on skateboards and playing catch in the front yard, and they’ve got their two dogs and they go to work. It’s so remarkably normal in a way, and I think that’s what’s so powerful about it.

“How can you deny these two?”

Here’s a bit more about why they want to get married:

If marriage was not so important, Zarrillo said, “we wouldn’t be here today. I want to be able to share the joy and the happiness that my parents felt, my brother felt, my friends, my co-workers, my neighbors, of having the opportunity to be married. It’s the logical next step for us.”

From Katami: “We currently struggle, in certain circumstances, about what to call each other. . . . But ‘husband’ is definitive. It’s something that everyone understands.”

Their testimony has literally given them a stage. Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black turned the trial transcript into a play called “8” — Matthew Morrison of the television show “Glee” has portrayed Katami, actor Matt Bomer read the words of Zarrillo — and it has been seen online or at stagings by more than 3 million people, Umhoefer said.

Read the full Washington Post article and watch their testimony in the play “8” below.