If you haven't yet heard of Zach Wahls, let me tell you about him.
In 2009, Iowa's Supreme Court recognized that preventing access to marriage for all persons was a fundamental denial of an inherent right. The Court effectively acknowledged that Iowans such as the two long-partnered women who had raised Zach Wahls and his biological sister had a valid partnership. The Court opened up the possibility of equal marriage by recognizing that at stake was a question not of political expediency, but in fact of civil rights.
On Tuesday of this past week, Iowa lawmakers passed House Joint Resolution 6, which was a Definition of Marriage resolution. It was the first step in a long process meant to rewrite the Iowa Constitution.
The voting process was clouded by talk of "responsible procreation" and "gender requirement," but in the runup, with public comment being offered, Wahls eventually got to have his brief say:
The Wahls video went viral. Fast. I saw it mid-evening Tuesday, and by the time I went to say something about it, I noticed a number of friends had already done so. As of this moment, it's approaching. 1.35 million hits.
Reflecting on it, Wahls recongizes that he's now a "face" to go with an issue that many choose to try to make faceless.
It's really easy to talk about this issue without putting a face to it. But what I bring to the table is that I'm a face with this issue. It's really easy to talk how bad gay marriage is until you realize that the people living down the street, they're one of those couples. Their son, a member of our community, is one of those kids... It was also such an emotional moment for me, and I think a lot of people are connecting with that as well.
This, in turn, can create a new sense of responsibility and ownership.
I got a message from a guy who's going to ship out to the army in two weeks, that he had totally opposed to this before but after seeing the testimony, he was in full support. He had been really hesitant about the repeal of DADT, but after this, didn't have any worries about it.
So, while it's fine that major Iowa media outlets such as The Des Moines Register implore us to fight the good fight and to stand on the right side of history, it's even better that others be willing to state who and what they are, and why they're proud of it.
This young man was obviously raised by loving parents who encouraged him to take pride in himself and in his family. No different from most families struggling to make it day by day.