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LGBTQ Community On A Roll: Prop 8 Plaintiffs Acknowledged

Celeste Alvarez |
January 5, 2014 | 11:08 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Prop 8 plaintiff’s Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo wave during San Francisco’s 2013 Pride Weekend. (Creative Commons/ InSapphoWeTrust )
Prop 8 plaintiff’s Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo wave during San Francisco’s 2013 Pride Weekend. (Creative Commons/ InSapphoWeTrust )
The New Year is shaping out to be a big one for the LGBTQ community in California.

Just after the Rose Bowl Parade’s first same-sex marriage, listeners of the Southern California-based public radio station KPCC voted for the four Prop 8 plaintiffs to become the station's inaugural "Californians of the Year."

When Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo joined Sandy Stier and Kris Perry in 2009 to challenge the constitutionality of Proposition 8 (California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage), becoming the faces of movement toward marriage equality was the furthest thing from their minds.

After four years on the legal battlefield, in June the couples finally won their fight against Prop 8 when the Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional. Two days later, Katami and Zarrillo became the first gay couple to be married in Los Angeles since 2008. Former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa officiated the ceremony. 

“There are people that may disagree with what we are doing and what we were trying to do and that’s okay they have that right to disagree… but we just wanted people to understand where we were coming from,” Zarrillo said during KPCC’s Air Talk program. 

READ MORE: West Hollywood Rallies To Celebrate Overturn Of Prop 8

Learning about the recent vote by KPCC listeners, some Californians shared their views on the award and the changing attitudes toward the LGBTQ community.

“I think this award shows that Californians are beginning to understand and acknowledge the LGBTQ community’s struggles even more,” said Luis Guillermo Gonzalez, a resident of Imperial Valley, Southern California. Gonzalez went on to say that he felt the award helps to demonstrate how far Californians have come since Prop 8 was approved in 2008.

Other Southern California residents shared mixed feeling about the award because it only measured the opinions of its KPCC viewers, not the opinions of all Californians.  

“While it spreads awareness about the general (LGBTQ) culture, I don’t think topping lists like this will do much to actually change public opinion or laws in other states. I think it would be more fruitful for listeners to actually lobby for change,” said Texas native and current Imperial Valley resident, Chelcey Adami. “But with that said, I do believe that the general trend is toward acceptance and equality for the LGBTQ community as it has become the civil rights movement of our generation.”

Imperial Valley native Eric Miller Shared similar sentiments on the recent award.

“I’m not sure winning a title like ‘Californian of the Year’ from a radio station like KPCC really represents how accepting Californians have become given that it’s only based on the demographic of their listeners,” Miller said. “Granted I do believe the LGBTQ community is getting more acknowledgements and this is a great step in the right direction, but I don’t believe this shows that all Californians share the same opinion of same-sex marriage or of gay rights.”

Prior to its listener’s voting for the Prop 8 plaintiffs, KPCC did note that their online polls were not “scientific surveys of local or national opinion,” but were rather designed as a way for their “audience members to engage with each other and share their views.” 

Following the two couples, the station’s runner-ups included serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, of SpaceX and co-founder of Tesla Motors; California Governor Jerry Brown and Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange established under the Affordable Care Act. 

Contact Staff Reporter Celeste Alvarez here or follow her on Twitter here.



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