Burbank residents Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo were catapulted onto the national stage Friday when the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would rule on constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, the voter-approved same-sex marriage ban that the couple sued to overturn.
For most of the day, Katami and Zarrillo, together nearly 12 years, were on a circuit of media interviews and conference calls as the nation learned that the Supreme Court had decided, for the first time, to weigh in on same-sex marriage.
“We’re excited, we’re anxious, we’re cautiously optimistic,” said Zarrillo when reached by phone. “This is what we’ve waited for.”
Last year, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Prop. 8 based on the lawsuit filed by Katami and Zarrillo and a lesbian couple, setting the stage for Supreme Court review.
At the time, Katami said the legal trajectory of the case had been an emotional ride, but that at every legal victory along the way, it wasn’t about “Hooray, we won,” it was instead more of sense that “this is the right path.”
Now, with the Supreme Court weighing in, the stakes are higher than ever. But the couple said they were confident that the high court would come down on the side of equal rights for all, noting they had history on their side.
“We hope that history has taught us one thing, that the courts are there to protect us,” Katami said.
The high court could take a number of different approaches to how it rules on the matter that could limit the ultimate outcome to just California and leave it up to individual state, or more broadly with a decision on the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) on Friday issued a statement saying he hoped the Supreme Court would uphold the appellate court finding that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional and discriminatory toward same-sex couples “who simply want to exercise their basic human right to marry the person of their choosing.”
“I also hope the Supreme Court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act, which has prevented many couples from enjoying the full rights of marriage,” he said.
But foes of same-sex marriage were also happy to have their day in court.
Andy Pugno, general counsel for Protect Marriage.com, said in a statement that his group was “delighted that the nation’s highest court will decide whether to uphold the will of more than seven million Californians who voted to preserve the unique definition of marriage as only between one man and one woman."
--Jason Wells, Times Community News