‘Gay’ marriage: more than a title

Twenty-year-old Zach Wahls has been on YouTube, MSNBC and even the Ellen DeGeneres Show. He has become a spokesman for same-sex marriage ever since he defended his two lesbian mothers to Iowa legislators. A proposed bill wished to amend the state’s constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman only and thus would have dissolved civil unions in Iowa.

It has been over eight months since the famed YouTube speech was posted and viewed by millions. And Wahls is still speaking on behalf of his family to audiences around the country about gay marriage – or as he likes to simply call it, marriage. The Northern Kentucky University’s Activities Programming Board arranged for Wahls to speak on Oct. 4 at the Otto Budig Theatre.

“I have a family, not a gay family,” he said. “Same-sex families are just as flawed, just as boring, just as loving or awesome as any other family, so why try to define what a family is based on the parent’s sexual orientation? That’s not what makes a family, but loving each other, that’s a family.”

Wahls is a third-year year civil/environmental engineer at the University of Iowa. Thanks to his recent fame, however, he is currently not taking any classes. He would describe himself as a successful student, a proud Iowa Hawkeye and an Eagle Scout, but he doesn’t think that being raised in a same-sex household defines him at all.

“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,” Wahls said in his YouTube video speech. “And you know why? Because the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character.”

At the podium inside the Otto Budig Theater, Zach spoke against the common concerns to allow gay marriage, refuting the arguments with logical assertions on subjects like public health and even religion.

“The bible isn’t a buffet, so you can’t pick and choose from it,” he said. “But even then, it shouldn’t be used for modern marriage laws. The constitution states that ‘government shall make no law regarding religion.’ And so basing any laws off the word of the bible is unconstitutional, and to those that say that we were founded as a Christian nation? I suggest they read the Treaty of Tripoli.”

The treaty was written by President John Adams and opens with the phrase “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…”

Zach went on to say that those who argue homosexuals cause HIV/AIDS are confusing “causation and correlation.”
“Being gay doesn’t cause HIV/AIDS, unsafe sex does,” Wahls said.

Wahls wants everyone to understand that there are benefits to being married, and that people are denied those benefits by the act of discrimination.
“People who are married get to have legal rights like hospital visitation and custody given to their partners,” he said. “There’s no reason to deprive anyone of that.” Zach wishes to enforce the notion that he is “fighting for equality” and “not forcing anyone to do anything.”

“It’s good to hear his perspective on this and put a face to it,” said graduate student Jessica Sorensen, a former Iowan Hawkeye who is pursuing her masters in social work. “He’s not afraid of standing up and eloquently deconstructing his opponent’s arguments. It’s refreshing.”

When asked if being around his mothers has driven him to become gay himself, Zach smiled softly and responded quickly with “in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.” He also admits he has no clue how women work, despite being raised by two of them.

“I’m a pretty manly guy,” Zach explains “I’m hairy, I drink whiskey, I’ll smoke a cigar every now and then; but if you ask me to be in a drag show, I’m down. If you think I’m tall now you should see me in heels.”
The fact that people think that children raised in same-sex households can somehow be imbalanced really irks Zach.

“I don’t have a dad, I was artificially inseminated into my mother and born naturally,” He says “I mean there is a guy somewhere who was paid money to jerk off into a jar, but that doesn’t make him my dad. ‘Dad’ is a title you have to earn … Darth Vader earned the right to be called Luke’s father when he showed how much he cared for him.”

Wahl summarized his final thoughts by simply stating: “We have to bear in mind that it’s all part of a larger whole … that we are approaching a day and age where equality and reason will overpower fear and bigotry … and that there will always be struggles like this and we will always need people to fight them.”