Iowa Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls is resharing a video of a speech he made in 2011 about being the son of a lesbian couple, and it’s as relevant as ever.
“12 years ago, I gave this speech in front of the Iowa House. Now I’m the Iowa Senate Democratic leader, and we’re still fighting Republican attacks [on] LGBTQ+ kids and families,” Wahls noted on TikTok.
The TikTok post has already amassed 1.2 million views.
In a subsequent post, Wahls called out Iowa Senate Republicans for voting on an education bill that he said is effectively a "don't say gay or trans," book-banning, forced-outing bill.
"This legislation is going to make life a lot harder for our public school students and families and especially LGBTQ students," Wahls said. He explained that the bill now moves to the state's House and urged voters to contact their representatives to vote against it.
Wahls gave the 2011 speech as Iowa legislators were considering an amendment to the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. That would have nullified a 2009 Iowa Supreme Court ruling that established marriage equality in the state, making it only the third one with equal marriage rights for all couples. The amendment never passed, but conservative lawmakers have introduced it again this year.
Republican legislators also recently introduced a bill that would permit Iowa residents to deny recognition to same-sex marriages if they have religious objections. That and the constitutional amendment have little chance of passing. But Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds recently signed bills into law that ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors and prevent trans students from using the school restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.
In the video, Wahls, then a student at the University of Iowa, mentioned that same-sex marriage comes up frequently in classroom discussions, including the question of whether same-sex couples can raise children.
“Most people don’t really have an answer,” he said. “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,” he continued. “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 legislators were voting on with the amendment, he said, was not to change families but to change how the law views them. “You are voting for the first time in the history of our state to codify discrimination into our constitution. … You are telling Iowans that some among you are second-class citizens who do not have the right to marry the person you love,” he said.
He said he expected to hear much testimony about how damaging same-sex couples are to their children, but he pointed out that no one had pegged him as the son of a same-sex couple without being told. “And you know why?” Wahls said. “Because the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character.”
12 years ago, I gave this speech in front of the Iowa House. Now I’m the Iowa Senate Democratic leader, and we’re still fighting Republican attacks LGBTQ+ kids and families.