American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

Witness Testimony: Paul Katami

On the first day of trial, AFER plaintiff Paul Katami testified about why he wanted to marry his partner of nearly 10 years, Jeff Zarrillo.  Katami also explained the difficulties he faces in everyday as an out gay man, and how the messaging of the Proposition 8 campaign was particularly hurtful.

Watch Matthew Morrison reenact Paul Katami’s testimony during the Los Angeles premiere of “8” the play.

Testimony Highlights

“Being married allows us access to the language. Being able to call him my husband is so definitive, it changes our relationship.”


“I can safely say that if I were married to Jeff, that I know that the struggle that we have validating ourselves to other people would be diminished and potentially eradicated.”


“[Coming out] was a gradual process. I struggled with it quite a bit. Being surrounded by what seemed everything heterosexual, you know, you tend to try and want to fit into that. Because when you are considered different from the norm, you’re subject to all kinds of issues and situations that you want to avoid; you shouldn’t have to deal with in life.”


“[P]rotect the children is a big part of the [Proposition 8] campaign. And when I think of protecting your children, you protect them from people who will perpetrate crimes against them, people who might get them hooked on a drug, a pedophile, or some person that you need protecting from.

“You don’t protect yourself from an amicable person or a good person. You protect yourself from things that can harm you physically, emotionally. And so insulting, even the insinuation that I would be part of that category. So far away from that category.”


“The Proposition 8 campaign advertisements “just demeans you. It just makes you feel like people are putting efforts into discriminating against you.”


“The big deal [about domestic partnerships] is, it’s creating a separate category for us. And that’s a major deal because it makes you into a second, third, and …  fourth class citizen now that we actually recognize marriages from other states.


“And everyone says, ‘Oh, but that’s a huge stride; you. Get rights.’ But we still have discrimination.


“So it’s like—for lack of a better image, it’s putting a Twinkie at the end of a treadmill and then saying, ‘Here’s a bite. Here’s another bite.’ Well, you want that Twinkie. You want the whole thing. I know it’s a rudimentary example of what it is, but that’s how it is. It is not the same.


“‘Oh, but you have the same rights.’ Yeah, but what am I supposed to do, go have a domestic partner ceremony and then a reception? It’s not what you do. None of our friends have ever said, ‘Hey, this is my domestic partner.’”