Years After Defending His Two Moms, Zach Wahls Wins Nomination For State Senate

Zach Wahls

It was just days after I launched The Randy Report that 19-year-old Zach Wahls of Iowa stood up in front of state lawmakers to introduce his two mothers as he argued for marriage equality in his state.

It was one of the most moving speeches I’d ever seen.

“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.”

Speaking to legislators about the importance of marriage equality to his family, Zach was beyond poised and focused. Here’s the speech:

The Advocate called it “the most popular political video of 2011.”

In 2012, the handsome 20-year-old Wahls released his book, My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family.

Last night, now-26-year-old Zach won his primary in Iowa as he runs to become a state senator in Iowa’s District 37. The woofy Wahls garnered 60% of the vote in his race.

Wahls moves on to the November election to fill the seat vacated by Democratic Sen. Bob Dvorsky, who announced his retirement after more than 30 years in the Iowa legislature.

If Wahls wins the seat, he will be one of the youngest people to ever serve in the state Senate.

Zach Wahls To Run For Iowa State Senate

Totally fan-boying out with Zach Wahls

I will never forget the first time (or the many, many other times) I watched Zach Wahls thoughtful, moving, pro-marriage equality speech before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee, back in 2011.

Stepping up to defend marriage equality, he spoke eloquently of his two mothers and his childhood:

“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.”

What happened next was the very definition of “viral video;” millions and millions of views on YouTube.

The Advocate called it “the most popular political video of 2011.”

In 2012, the handsome 20-eyar-old Wahls released his book, My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family.

Short story – I was with my husband Michael in New York City as he was on a publicity tour with his client, Olivia Newton-John.

We were leaving CNN where Olivia had just done an interview about her latest album, and walking down the hallway to the elevators, I see Zach Wahls walking towards us. He was on a promo tour for his book.

I dropped everything I was carrying and totally fan-boyed out. I explained to Michael and Olivia who he was, his speech, and just a lot of blathering blah blah blah. #EmbarrassingButAHugeFan

Zach was very charming, reaching for a book and autographing it to me. His mothers, seeing and recognizing Olivia, stood back and watched this whole moment unfold.

Eventually, we all took pictures and went on our separate ways.

In the elevator, Olivia laughed telling me she had never seen me so animated or excited in all the years she knew me.

Zach Wahls with Olivia Newton-John and his mothers

Zach went on to serve as co-chair for “The Outspoken Generation,” a Family Equality Council initiative that gave the children of gay and lesbian parents a platform to speak out in support of their upbringing.

He also helped launch Scouts for Equality, an advocacy group that sought to challenge the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay and lesbian scout leaders.

And then there is his stirring speech at the Democratic National Convention, where he thanked President Obama for his support of same-sex marriage.

Fast forward to now and Zach has announced that he is running for state Senate in Iowa’s 37th District.

The 26-year-old will soon graduate with a master’s degree in public policy from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Hello? Princeton University? No slacker here.

I’ll totally be contributing to his campaign.

If you’ve never seen it, you must watch 19-year-old Zach Wahl’s speech in February 2011.

I can’t tell you how moved I was when I saw this. This guy is a political star.

Boy Scouts of America prepare to vote tomorrow on possible gay inclusion

As the Boy Scouts of America prepares to vote tomorrow on a proposal that would change its long-standing policy of excluding gay boys from Scout units, the executive director of Scouts for Equality, a gay rights advocacy group, is hopeful that the proposal will pass–but says this is just the first step.

“This is a good step in the right direction, we want youth protection throughout the entire program, and it looks we’ll be able to see that on the 23rd,” executive director Zach Wahls tells Top Line. “But after that, we have to make sure that we are telling Scouts that when you turn 18 you are still welcome in the program.”

The proposal up for vote will not change the BSA’s policy of banning gay adult leaders. To Wahls, changing that policy is not just political, it’s personal.

“As the straight Eagle Scout son of a lesbian couple, I know exactly how important lifting the ban on adults is,” he says. “I got to see first-hand when I was growing up in Iowa the impact that great, wise, loving parents could have in the lives of my Scouters.”

(via ABC News/Yahoo! News “Top Line”)

Zach Wahls calmly decimates opponent of lifting Boy Scouts anti-gay policy

Once again, the clear-eyed, well-spoken Zach Wahls brings thought and common sense to the discussion on lifting the current anti-gay ban on gays participating in the Boy Scouts of America.

From the Advocate:

Edward Whelan, the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author of an incendiary New York Post op-ed that suggested gay Boy Scout leaders would molest their charges, debated former Eagle Scout Zach Wahls on CNN.

Whelan is also the father of a soon-to-be Eagle Scout; he recently wrote an op-ed for the Post that posited, “Imagine that a group of girls is going on a long camping trip, supervised by adult volunteers who are young men you barely know. Would you let your 15-year-old daughter go?”

On CNN this weekend, Whelan defended the right of the Scouts to allow only people they deem “suitable.” Activist Wahls had much to say in response.

Zach continues to be one our very best allies in the public discussion for equality. His thoughtful, calm and confident demeanor makes the argument for equality a clear one.

Boy Scouts of America close to ending ban on gay members

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MSNBC is reporting that the Boy Scouts of America are close to ending their ban on gay members and leaders. This would be a big shift in policy for BSA.

The policy change is now before the organization’s national board of directors.

The decision would be left to each individual chapter whether or not to accept gay scouts and leaders.

MSNBC reports that this changes comes from communications from the grass roots level of the Boy Scouts. Local chapters have apparently urged the national organization to reconsider the discriminatory policy.

Zach Wahls, Eagle Scout and founder of Scouts for Equality, had this to say: “This would be an incredible step forward in the right direction. We look forward to working with BSA Councils and chartering organizations across the country to end the exclusion of our gay brothers in Scouting, as well as the gay and lesbian leaders who serve the organizations so well.”

Zach Wahls speaks at the 2012 Democratic National Convention

The text of  Zach Wahls’ speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, September 6, 2012:

I’m a sixth-generation Iowan, an Eagle Scout, and I was raised by my two moms, Jackie and Terry.

People want to know what it’s like having lesbian parents. I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m awesome at putting the seat down. Otherwise, we’re like any other family. We eat dinner, we go to church, we have chores. But some people don’t see it that way. When I was 12, watching the 2004 Republican convention, I remember politicians talking about protecting marriage from families like mine.

Now, supporting a view of marriage as between a man and woman isn’t radical. For many people, it’s a matter of faith. We respect that. Watching that convention on TV, though I felt confused, frustrated. Why didn’t they think my family was a real family?

Governor Romney says he’s against same-sex marriage because every child deserves a mother and a father. I think every child deserves a family as loving and committed as mine. Because 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. Mr. Romney, my family is just as real as yours.

President Obama understands that. He supports my moms’ marriage. President Obama put his political future on the line to do what was right. Without his leadership, we wouldn’t be here. President Obama is fighting for our families… all of our families. He has our backs. We have his.

Zach Wahls to speak at DNC 2012

Now you KNOW I won’t be missing this speech!  How cool is this?  I love that so many passionate young Democrats are involved in this convention.  Bodes well for the future.  And just plain makes you feel good 🙂

Zach will reportedly be speaking sometime between 6:20 and 6:45pm.

Wahls recently recorded a video for Obama’s reelection campaign in which he talks about the speech before the Iowa legislature which made him famous on YouTube, his two moms, and what President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality means to him, and his family.