Upbringing starts the conversation

August 31, 2012 at 2:20 pm

from The Telegraph Herald.

Zach Wahls is quite a rock star in the marriage-equality movement.

After he spoke at Carnegie-Stout Public Library on Thursday night, many of the about 90 attendees lined up to shake his hand, have their pictures taken with him or get their copy of his book signed. That’s what having a YouTube video with 17 million hits will do for someone.

“People want to get a picture taken with him and put it on their Facebook page,” said Molly Tafoya with One Iowa, the state’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group.

Dubuque was the final stop in Wahls’ statewide, Why Marriage Matters tour with One Iowa.

Wahls is an agreeable advocate for LGBT rights who, One Iowa officials admit, “opens doors that we can’t.”

He is handsome, charming, well-spoken and funny. And he is unwavering in his love for his lesbian parents. Wahls’ book, “My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength and What Makes a Family,” released this year, has garnered international attention.

“The attention has given me an opportunity to get out into the world and have this conversation about ‘gay marriage,’ which I just call ‘marriage,'” said Wahls, 21, a native Iowan who lives in Iowa City.

“I learned about family love and commitment from my moms. It hasn’t been easy for them,” he said, describing a critical hospital visit when his “tall mom,” his biological mother, Terri Wahls, was not allowed into the emergency room when his “short mom,” Jackie Reger, was treated for a near-fatal condition.

After same-sex marriage became legal in Iowa, the couple got a marriage license and held a wedding ceremony.

When people learn Wahls was raised by two mothers, they often ask similar questions about his daily life. He often disappoints them by detailing its normalcy.

Audience members told Wahls about differing experiences of being gay in Dubuque.

One man recalled gay pride parades when marchers were pelted with eggs and described the city as lagging in the movement toward marriage equality. Another said, although he was afraid to move to Dubuque four years ago, he and his husband have felt very welcomed by the community.

The audience was asked to sign a pledge card to have five conversations within the next few weeks with friends and strangers about “why marriage matters.”

Wahls shied away from talking politics, noting that he was speaking in a public library, but someone brought up the push by Republicans to oust another Iowa Supreme Court justice who participated in the 2009 ruling that allowed same-sex marriage.

“I can’t tell you to turn your ballot over and vote one way or another, but I can tell you to vote,” Wahls said. “But if you value an independent judiciary, then voting to protect them is the right thing to do.”

Read the full article from The Telegraph Herald.

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Entry filed under: News.

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