Who Is Zach Wahls? The LGBTQ Rights Activist You Might Remember From 2011 Is Running For Office
In an announcement speech right before the holidays, Zach Wahls, who defended his two moms several years ago in a viral video, revealed that he is now running for office in Iowa. The 26-year-old will be running as a Democrat to win the 37th State Senate seat in 2018. Spearheading a pro-LGBTQ campaign, Wahls emphasized why he believes this is such a pivotal time for America during the Dec. 21 announcement.
This is an all-hands-on-deck moment that will determine the future of our state for generations to come, and I feel responsible for doing my part. Our state has a choice to make.
Remember that young man from Iowa who spoke to the Iowa legislature a few years ago about growing up with two moms? Hi. That was me — and today, I'm announcing my campaign to join the Iowa legislature. I hope you'll support our campaign.
The then-19-year-old spoke of his mothers' marriage in 2011 and defended them in front of the Iowa legislature, which sought to ban same-sex marriage. Wahls said that, as an engineering student at the University of Iowa, his peers would often wonder about the effectiveness of gay parenting. He said that he would respond to his classmates:
"Actually, I was raised by a gay couple, and I'm doing pretty well." I scored in the 99th percentile in the ACT. I'm actually an Eagle Scout. I own and operate my own small business.
And that's not it — "If I was your son, Mr. Chairman, I believe I'd make you very proud," he continued. The video attracted millions of views.
In his three-minute video, Wahls gained instant recognition for his passionate defense.
I'm not really so different from any of your children. My family really isn't so different from yours. After all, your family doesn't derive its sense of worth from being told by the state, "You're married, congratulations!"
No, the sense of family comes from the commitment we make to each other to work through the hard times so we can enjoy the good ones. It comes from the love that binds us. That's what makes a family.
The young citizen told the members of the Iowa legislature that their stance on same-sex marriage was leaving behind a dangerous message.
You are telling Iowans that some among you are second-class citizens who do not have the right to marry the person you love. ... In my 19 years, not once have I ever been confronted by an individual who realized independently that I was raised by a gay couple. And you know why? Because the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character.
Wahls described his mothers as medical professionals in his announcement speech — "I'm running for this seat to fight for your family the way I fought for mine" — and also mentioned that he wanted to improve Iowa's record on mental health, workers' rights, education, health care, and the opioid crisis.
Not limited to activist speeches only, Wahls also authored a book in 2012 titled, My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family. In addition, he co-created Scouts for Equality to combat anti-LGBTQ sentiment in the Boy Scouts of America. Since his emotional video went viral in 2011, Wahls has been invited to speak on programs, like The Daily Show, about his mothers as well as LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage in the United States.
Iowa's primary election will take place on June 5, 2018; Wahls will be competing against another Democrat, Janice Weiner.