The Faces of Federal Prop. 8

With the federal challenge to Prop. 8 moving full speed ahead, Advocate.com sits down with the two couples named as plaintiffs in the suit.

BY Andrew Gumbel

July 01 2009 11:00 PM ET

On the eve of the first court hearing in the federal suit to overturn California's Prop. 8, Advocate.com interviewed the four named plaintiffs in the case. They are Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, a lesbian couple from Berkeley with four children, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, a gay couple who live in Burbank.

Perry is executive director of First 5 California, a state agency that promotes education and health for children under 5. Stier is information technology director for the Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services Agency. They have been together for nine years.

Katami is a fitness expert; Zarrillo is the general manager of a theater exhibition company. They have been together for eight years.

Advocate.com:Kris and Sandy, tell us how you first tried to get married five years ago.Kris Perry: We did get married at San Francisco City Hall in February 2004. It was really exciting. A little earlier in that year, I had proposed to Sandy. We were going to get married that summertime in Berkeley, and were already gearing up for that when the announcement came that Mayor [Gavin] Newsom was going to marry same-sex couples. So we went to City Hall with our kids. We still wanted to do the big thing with our family, but by that time the marriages had been stopped. We experienced a big high and a big low.

Did you think of getting married again during the window when same-sex marriages were legal before the passage of Prop. 8?Sandy Stier: We didn't have a huge amount of confidence the marriage was going to stick legally. And the roller-coaster experience with San Francisco in 2004 made us a bit more cautious. It was such an important issue we really wanted to have our next marriage completely and totally legitimate and for real, so it could not be taken away from us. Perry: We have four kids and two jobs, and on a practical level we couldn't figure out -- as much as we wanted this to happen -- how we could bring the whole family with us to that experience without feeling more confident.

What was your experience of the yes vote on Prop. 8?Stier: It was incredibly sad for us. We had both in different ways advocated for its defeat. We really felt defeated as a group of people, not only us but all the other families too. It was really quite devastating. Perry: I felt heartbroken in ways that crept up on me in the days that followed the election. Initially I was so pleased with the new president, it was hard to focus on what it meant. I still feel heartbroken about it.

Tags: Politics

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