Remember Zach Wahls? The LGBT Activist & Beautiful Speaker Is Now A White House Intern
Do you remember this handsome young man? Do you think you could recognize his voice if you heard it? Well, Huffington Post reporter Ryan Grim did when he called up the White House this week— the voice came from Zach Wahls, the son of two mothers whose heartfelt testimony against an anti-gay marriage bill in Iowa in 2011 went viral, and landed him a speaking role at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. And as Grim quickly found out, it was also Zach Wahls, White House intern.
It's a pretty sweet career track for Wahls, at such a young age — he's just 22 — and it's all the more satisfying to see his success spring from the honest, passionate drive to advocate for his mothers' civil rights. When Wahls went before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee to tell his story three years ago, it's clear as day how high the stakes were for him, his family, and for how the state would view them.
As unlikely as it may seem with so many more liberal states now following suit, Iowa was an early state to adopt same-sex marriage, thanks to a state Supreme Court ruling in 2009. But by 2011, state legislators were aiming to turn back the clock, banning such marriages by amending the state constitution.
What those legislators surely weren't prepared for, however, was Wahls. In just three minutes, he delivered a speech to the committee that politely, eloquently, and emotionally cut like a knife through the arguments against his mothers' right to marry. To what extent his rhetoric had an effect on the outcome of the amendment, well, that's hard to say for certain. It passed Iowa's overwhelmingly Republican House by a wide margin, then stalled out in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Wahls' speech caught fire on social media, and ultimately earned him that high-profile DNC speaking slot, which as it turns out presaged his future career path. It also had a distinct impact on the online landscape — as Huffington Post mentions, the video's effect on social media inspired MoveOn.org's Eli Pariser to found Upworthy.
It's great to know that Wahls is still working actively in politics, and that he's maintaining a role as a reliable, equality-minded presence within the White House, even just as an intern. Considering how capably he disarmed his opponents when he was just 19-years-old, and the exposure in the media that he's already received, there's no telling how bright his star could shine in the years to come.