Prop. 8: Gay plaintiffs see end to 'dark wall of discrimination'
At a news conference at a former church in Los Angeles, plaintiffs and their families lined the stage, and almost every speaker emphasized that he or she viewed the freedom to marry as a fundamental American right, one that would strengthen family ties that they hold dear.
Kris Perry, one of the plaintiffs, spoke as her partner of more than a decade, Sandy Stier, and two of their four sons looked on, shortly after a federal appeals court panel ruled that Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure banning same-sex marriage in California, violated the U.S. Constitution.
"Today, the 9th Circuit [Court of Appeals] said to our family that we are equal under the law," she said, adding that now, "we can see over the dark wall of discrimination."
She noted that when she grew up in Bakersfield, she was “afraid of who I really was. Afraid to come out. Afraid to fall in love.... Afraid to dream of a future. I did not let myself want to have a family, because I could not imagine how that dream would ever become a reality.
"It has been a long road. Sandy and I are anxious to get married before our young children graduate from high school next year," Perry said.
One of their sons, Spencer Perry, 17, said seeing his parents have the right to marry was important.
Added Paul Katami, one of the other plaintiffs, “I can remember being gay as far back as I can remember anything. I didn’t choose to be gay.”
Katami added, “I was bullied, I was harassed, so I chose to hide my true self and create a life that wasn’t my own.
"Today, I know that being gay doesn’t make me any less American. I’m proud to be gay."
After the news conference, Rob Reiner, who sits on the board of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which is sponsoring the legal case, came over to the Perry family to give them support, acknowledging how hard it is to be the plaintiffs in a landmark case.
“I’m so proud of you,” Reiner told the twin teenage boys. “You guys just have to think: You’re part of history.”
-- Jessica Garrison in downtown Los Angeles
Photo: Elliot Perry, 17, left, wipes a tear as his twin brother Spencer, right, speaks at a Los Angeles news conference Tuesday morning after a federal appeals court struck down California's ban on same-sex marriage. Their parents Kris Perry, right, and Sandy Stier, left, were plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times