Friday, December 2, 2011

Zach Wahls.

I have a new hero, and his name is Zach Wahls.

Have you heard his name this week? This eloquent 19 year old stood up in front of Iowa legislators on Tuesday urging them not to pass a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage and civil unions. It was so powerful, I had chills. I guarantee you will too.

His testimony, however, fell on deaf ears. Three Democrats joined 59 Republicans to vote in favor of amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage, which passed by a 62-37 vote. If approved by legislators and voters in 2013, the amendment to the constitution would ban gay marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships and any government recognition of gay and lesbian couples in the state.

The idea that our country is still willing to codify discrimination is simply disgraceful.

On the heels of Australia's GetUp! video that I had coded much earlier in the week to share this morning - which brought me so much joy - I am sorely disappointed and deeply angered by the lack of compassion and respect in this country for human rights, love and the families of our communities. It actually makes me sick.




Transcript of Zach's Speech

Good evening Mr. Chairman. My name is Zach Wahls. I'm a sixth-generation Iowan and an engineering student at the University of Iowa and I was raised by two women.

My biological mom, Terry, told her grandparents that she was pregnant, that the artificial insemination had worked, and they wouldn't even acknowledge it.  It wasn't until I was born and they succumbed to my infantile cuteness that they broke down and told her that they were thrilled to have another grandson. Unfortunately, neither of them lived to see her marry her partner Jackie of 15 years when they wed in 2009.

My younger sister and only sibling was born in 1994. We actually have the same anonymous donor so we're full siblings, which is really cool for me.  I guess the point is our family really isn't so different from any other Iowa family. You know, when I'm home we go to church together, we eat dinner, we go on vacations. But, you know, we have our hard times too, we get in fights...

Actually my mom, Terry was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2000. It is a devastating disease that put her in a wheelchair. So we've had our struggles. But, you know, we're Iowans. We don't expect anyone to solve our problems for us. We'll fight our own battles. We just hope for equal and fair treatment from our government.

Being a student at the University of Iowa, the topic of same sex marriage comes up quite frequently in classroom discussions... The question always comes down to, well, "Can gays even raise kids?"  ...The conversation gets quiet for a moment because most people don't really have any answer. And then I raise my hand and say, "Actually, I was raised by a gay couple, and I'm doing pretty well."

I scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. I'm actually an Eagle Scout. I own and operate my own small business. If I was your son, Mr. Chairman, I believe I'd make you very proud.

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.

So what you're voting here isn't to change us. It's not to change our families, it's to change how the law views us; how the law treats us. You are voting for the first time in the history of our state to codify discrimination into our constitution, a constitution that but for the proposed amendment, is the least amended constitution in the United States of America.  You are telling Iowans that some among you are second-class citizens who do not have the right to marry the person you love.

So will this vote affect my family?  Would it affect yours?

In the next two hours I'm sure we're going to hear plenty of testimony about how damaging having gay parents is on kids.

But 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.

Thank you very much.

1 comment:

  1. Here’s our interview with Zach about how his life has changed after this speech thrust him into the public eye, what it was like growing up with two mothers, what led him to decide to go and speak before the House of Representatives, and what other young people can do to fight for equality and speak out against intolerance.

    http://patv.tv/blog/2011/04/06/talking-with-yale-cohn-with-zach-wahls/

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