American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

Witness Testimony: Jeff Zarrillo

On the first day of trial, AFER plaintiff Jeff Zarrillo testified about coming out as a gay man.  He also explained his nine year relationship with Paul Katami, why the two men wish to marry each other, and the special meaning marriage has for them and their family

Watch Matt Bomer reenact Jeff Zarrillo’s testimony during the Los Angeles premiere of “8” the play.

Testimony Highlights

“Coming out is a very personal and internal process. … You have to get to the point where you’re comfortable with yourself, with your own identity and who you are.”


“[Paul is] the love of my life. I love him probably more than I love myself. I would do anything for him. I would put his needs ahead of my own.”


“Domestic partnership would relegate me to a level of second class citizenship, maybe even third class citizenship, currently, the way things are in California today.

“And that’s not enough. It’s giving me part of the pie, but not the whole thing.

“And while it is obviously an opportunity for us to do that, we hold marriage in such high regard that if we were to get married, we would be saying that we are satisfied with domestic partnership as a way to live our lives, but it doesn’t give due respect to the relationship that we have had for almost nine years. Only a marriage could do that.”


“[W]hen Paul and I travel, it’s always an awkward situation at the front desk at the hotel.“There’s on numerous occasions where the individual working at the desk will look at us with a perplexed look on his face and say, ‘You ordered a king-size bed. Is that really what you want?’ And that’s certainly an awkward situation for him and for us. And we—it is. It’s very awkward.

“There’s been occasion where I’ve had to open a bank account. Paul and I had to open a bank account. And it was certainly an awkward situation walking to the bank and saying,

“‘My partner and I want to open a joint bank account,’ and hearing, you know, ‘Is it a business account? A partnership?’ It would just be a lot easier to describe the situation—might not make it less awkward for those individuals, but it would make it—crystallize it more by being able to say, ‘My husband and I are here to check in for our room. My husband and I are here to open a bank account.’”


“I think the timeline for us has always been marriage first, before family.”


“I have no attraction, desire, to be with a member of the opposite sex.”