By SAMANTHA BELCHER, Student Life Editor
In 2011, 19 year-old Zach Wahls stood in front of the Iowa House Judiciary Committee and gave a speech persuading the committee to not ban gay marriage in the state. Wahls, a University of Iowa student, told the committee how he had been raised by two lesbian mothers and how it has affected his life.
“I score in the 99th percentile on the ACT. I’m an Eagle Scout. I own and operate my own small business,” Wahls said to the committee, “If I was your son, Mr. Chairman, I believe I’d make you very proud.”
During the committee hearing, someone recorded Wahl’s speech and posted it on the online video website YouTube. Soon after, the video went viral and received more than two million views.
Wahls will visit the University of Michigan-Dearborn on Wednesday, March 20th from 6:30-9 p.m. in Kochoff Hall. The college junior will provide a question and answer session with UM-D students and staff.
“I think Zach’s video was so powerful because it was a straight male speaking about being raised successfully by two lesbian mothers,” said Jonathon Larson, UM-D Coordinator of LGBTQ and Inclusion Initiatives. “His upbringing, and the successes he mentions in his speech, fly in the face of the argument against gay marriage and parenting (which is that children need two heterosexual parents to be successful).”
Larson added that students can relate to Wahls because he is a student set to graduate in 2014 and majors in engineering. Since he is also a college student, he faces similar challenges to the ones UM-D students face.
“He has known hardships, family health problems, but still managed to get to college with the love and support of his two parents, who happen to be women,” Larson said.
Wahls recently wrote a book entitled, “My Two Moms.” In the book, he discusses his childhood, the speech that made him famous, and what he is doing now.
Today, Wahls travels around the country talking about this upbringing while also fighting for LGBTQ rights. He works with many LGBTQ rights groups to bring equality to people all over the country and especially his home state of Iowa.
Currently, he is leading a campaign called, “Scouts for Equality” working to end the ban on gay members joining the Boy Scouts of America.
“There are a lot of intersections with his talk that students can learn about and grow from,” Larson said.