In San Francisco, people literally danced in the streets when same-sex marriage was re-un-illegalized. In West Hollywood, couples waited in line for hours for the privilege of being married in a municipal building.
Burbank, however, met the demise of Proposition 8 and part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act with a collective shrug. This, despite the fact that two of its residents — Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami — were co-champions of the suit seeking to overturn the noxious state initiative that declared marriage as solely being between a man and a woman.
Curious as to why, I trundled off to Tony’s Darts Away on Magnolia Boulevard on June 26, the day the two U.S. Supreme Court decisions came down, figuring the late-afternoon drinkers might be open enough to share their thoughts on the matter.
Few seemed surprised by the non-reaction, though most seemed a tad shy about being identified as drinking in the daylight. In particular, one woman said she felt the decision was long overdue.
“Things are now as they should have been years ago,” she said. “Maybe that’s why people aren’t showing much emotion.”
People at the bar nodded in agreement.
“It’s great, it’s wonderful,” said another woman, “but Burbank isn’t going to throw a parade or anything.”
Apparently not. As of Tuesday, there has been no city proclamation, no official notice, and, according to city spokesman Drew Sugars, none are planned.
Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, reached Monday, said she hadn’t yet spoken to her colleagues on the Council — they did not meet this week — but she wanted to find some way to acknowledge what she termed the “courage and commitment” of Zarrillo and Katami.
The issue is not an academic one. Her brother, Peter Kolar Gabel, died of AIDS 21 years ago.
“I wish my brother had lived to see it,” she said, adding he would have been “first in line” to get married.
As for the seeming lack of emotion, Gabel-Luddy chalked it up to the personality of the town.
“I think Burbank the city likes to draw attention to itself, but individuals within it are less inclined to do that,” she said.
Rev. Bill Thomas, Jr., the pastor of the Little White Chapel in Burbank, said he saw the non-reaction as a sign of progress.
“I hope they had a wild celebration among their friends,” he said. “But the fact that the city simply went about its business and treated them as they would any other couple is the greatest affirmation of all.”
The two at the center of it all seem unfazed by the lack of local attention, noting they involved themselves in the legal fight for the rights of same-sex couple across the state and the nation, not just in Burbank.
Zarrillo said he and Katami have received letters and emails of support from locals over the years, and that the one-on-one reaction they’ve received from Burbankers has been extremely positive.
“We love Burbank,” he said. “We live here. We received those nice notices, but outside of that, we haven’t had much interaction.”
And that’s OK, he said.
“I really don’t think it should be a big deal,” he said. “It’s a big deal not to have the right, but having the right only affects the people involved.”
DAN EVANS is the editor. He can be reached at (818) 637-3234 or email@example.com.