at L. A. City Hall
Newly-weds Jeff Zarillo, left, and Paul Katami are married by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at City Hall on Friday evening. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
IT WAS AN EMOTIONAL MOMENT when Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pronounced Paul Katami and Jeff Zarillo as “married” on Friday evening.
The assembled press corps, gathered in a small room in Los Angeles City Hall, burst into raucous applause, cheering the newly-weds.
There was barely a dry eye in the place.
Katami and Zarillo are two of the four plaintiffs in the gay marriage case, Hollingsworth vs. Perry, which challenged – and ultimately overturned – Proposition 8, the voter approved measure which banned same-sex marriage in California in 2008.
“On behalf of the state of California, let me pronounce you married,” Villaraigosa said after the brief exchange of vows.
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IN A FIVE-MINUTE QUESTION and answer session with reporters afterwards, the beaming couple related to the world the events of the previous few hours.
After the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its stay on gay marriages in mid-afternoon, and a 25-day delay in issuing marriage licenses was voided, the couple raced about 25 miles through the notorious Friday afternoon freeway traffic from their home n Burbank to Norwalk, Calif., to obtain their license.
The press corps awaits the start of California’s first gay wedding ceremony since 2008 at L. A. City Hall on Friday evening. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
They then turned around and came back to downtown Los Angeles.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Katami said. “[Voiding the 25-day delay] was a surprise to all of us.”
“This is just an amazing feeling,” Zarillo said. “Our desire to marry has grown so much over the last four years.”
Katami drew howls of laughter when he added: “Everyone says we deserve to be as miserable as everybody else.”
Dressed in business suit, white shirts and ties, the pair sported white carnations on their lapels. They were accompanied by a few friends, including David Mars.
I FIRST GOT AN INKLING that something was afoot around 4 p.m. at my local pharmacy when total stranger mentioned he was going to have to watch a “gay wedding” on television that evening.
I raced home and called the one person whom I knew could tell me where and when the ceremony was to be held: an assignment editor at KABC 7 TV whom I have known for more than 20 years.
Hideyuki Shimane of Japan Broadcasting Corp., sets up his gear on the conference table next to me before the wedding ceremony at L.A. City Hall began. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
He had the media advisory on his desk when we spoke, and read me the details.
With all the gear stashed in it, I jumped on my motorcycle and sped the 13 miles to downtown through heavy traffic.
I parked my bike on the sidewalk.
Without an official press credential, I had to talk fast to get past the security guard since City Hall was officially closed for the weekend.
“I am going to the wedding,” I said, waving my reporters’ notebook at him.
I was about 20 minutes early. At the back of the room was a 12-foot long conference table. Two camera crews were atop it, but there was space for two more.
I didn’t hesitate.
I jumped up and positioned myself alongside the cameraman from ABC 7, Mike Juhas, caught my breath and introduced myself.
A few minutes later, the last position on top of the table was taken by Hideyuki Shimane of the Japanese Broadcasting Corp.
Reuters Correspondent Roselle Chen writes her contact information into my reporters’ notebook before the wedding ceremony Friday evening. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
THE ENTIRE PROCEEDING took less than 20 minutes.
I must admit to a momentary pang of guilt.
Every semester I tell my students that we in the media allow ourselves to be manipulated when we cover such “pseudo” events that, without the assembled press corps, would never have taken place.
The mother of all such events was President George Bush’s appearance on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Carlsbad, Calif., on May 1, 2003, when he declared, America’s “mission accomplished” in Iraq.
The public was not invited to Friday’s wedding.
It was held only for the press.
However, it is a two-way street. It is an efficient way for the media to cover significant breaking news, and also a method for the sources to communicate instantly with a global audience.
In this instance, I felt it was totally justifiable.
The bells are ringing in California today. Happiness and joy are spreading throughout the land.
It seems like only a matter of time until the 13 states where same-sex marriage is now recognized, become 50.
CBS Reporter Juan Fernandez packs up with his crew outside City Hall after the wedding ceremony. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
First published at 5:44 a.m. Saturday, June 29, 2013. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.