Young Iowan gives lawmakers an earful about his two moms and same-sex marriage

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51 Responses to “Young Iowan gives lawmakers an earful about his two moms and same-sex marriage”

  1. awjt says:

    Ooooh, that’s badass.  Well done, son!

  2. Connor Anderson says:

    This video was actually made about two years ago when the GOP-dominated Iowa House tried to move a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage following the Iowa Supreme court’s ground-breaking ruling that a state law that had the same effect was unconstitutional.  It made the rounds quite a bit then. 

    Glad to see it getting more viral justice again now.  What he says and represents is timeless. Proud to have this young man representing for my home state.

  3. Patrick Hogan says:

    It’s interesting to see this suddenly catching fire outside Iowa. It made the rounds here in the early spring when the Legislature was still in session.

    Just to point out, his mom, Dr. Terry Wahls, is pretty rad too. Saw her talk at TEDx Iowa City last week: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLjgBLwH3Wc

  4. Raederle says:

    Zach Wahls (note the spelling) is doing an AMA on Reddit now.  Very, very cool guy.
    http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/mvhnh/i_am_zach_wahls_the_guy_who_defended_my_two_moms/

  5. Matthew "Pilot" Kramer says:

    BoingBoing: Reddit, Curated 

  6. trackofalljades says:

    Speaking of reddit, anyone interested in this ongoing story may also want to check out Zach’s recent “ask me anything” post:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/mvhnh/i_am_zach_wahls_the_guy_who_defended_my_two_moms/

  7. Brainspore says:

    Knowing that Iowa is capable of producing people like this young man helps reduce the resentment I feel toward that state every time I think of how the primary system totally screws the rest of us over every election cycle. And the corn lobby. Don’t get me started on the corn lobby.

    Where was I? Oh yes, good on you Zach.

    • Iowa doesn’t have primaries.  We caucus; an uniquely democratic way of determining a party’s candidates and platform.  And how does Iowa’s position in any way “screw” you?

      • Bill Jackson says:

        The caucus is actually an enormous pain to deal with, which is why I don’t participate. I’d vote in a primary, but I’d rather chew glass than sit through another caucus.

      • Brainspore says:

        My mistake about the primary vs. caucus thing. Rick Perry moment.

        I don’t care for the current system because it gives Iowa and New Hampshire (two small states that are not particularly representative of our nation’s demographics) a highly disproportionate amount of influence on elections that effect the entire country. That means politicians support policies that Iowans want even if those things may be to the detriment of the country as a whole. For example, the aforementioned corn lobby gets pretty much anything it wants and if you don’t like it you’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell of ever being President.

        I’m sure many Iowans may not see things the same way, but that’s what it looks like from my perspective. I can’t even blame you guys, really. Any group of voters generally wants to amass as much influence as it can.

  8. Scratcheee says:

    I thought gays couldn’t be in the Boy Scouts?

    • bja009 says:

      I always cringe when BSA gets judged based on the morons who are ‘in charge’. A not insignificant number of Boy Scout troops basically ignore the politics that go one in the headquarters in Texas. I was in one such troop. Learned leadership and integrity without most of the social conservative bullshit.

      • marilove says:

        The problem is that the morons in charge are very vocal and do have a lot of say in how things are run, especially in the smaller towns.  Many of the BSA troops DO discriminate, and very much so.  There may be a few better ones, but they are the minority.

      • unit_1421 says:

        I actually asked Ben Love to autograph my soapbox after he ruined the 1988 Cape Fear Council Eagle Banquet for me after making a frothing rambling political keynote speech, railing about gays and NAMBLA. The whole gay purge is pinned to ONE lawsuit from a boy who was molested and refused to keep the incident quiet. The right wing was able to manipulate the publicity from the suit into the vector for scaring the membership into banning gays.

      • valdis says:

         Amen to that.  I’m Scoutmaster of a small troop in a primarily rural area. On the one hand, there’s the official BSA stance, and a few leaders of other troops in the area who support it. On the other hand, there’s a awful lot of troops that the unofficial policy is somewhere closer to “dont ask don’t tell”.

        Personally, I’ve been very careful to avoid asking directly, won’t make an issue of it unless the boy makes it into the paper as a news story for taking another boy to the prom, and if somebody shows me the paper with a picture of the two of them, I’m gonna say “Cool photoshop, bro.  How did they get the paper to  run it?” ;)

        The volunteer leadership at the troop level is being continually astounded by the cluelessness that comes down from National – everything from new editions of rank advancement that “fix” ambiguous rules by making them even more ambiguous and confusing, to head-scratchers in the safety guide. Did you know that BSA allows 10 1/2 year old Tenderfeet to shoot live-ammo .22 rifles, shotguns, and muzzle loaders, and Venture crew (14 and up) can shoot all rifles except full-automatics – but paintball is a banned troop activity even for 17 year old Eagle Scouts?  Yes, I can take my boys on a rifle range and shoot .50 caliber rifles, but I can’t take them paintballing.  No, you don’t want to ask what logic created that rule. ;)

        The view of many in the trenches is that the bozos at National are the single biggest hazard to the BSA, because so many of them have their heads stuck someplace where only their proctologist knows what color hair they have.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          Personally, I’ve been very careful to avoid asking directly….

          So you’ve recreated Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in your own life. How heartwarming.

          • valdis says:

            You think I’m thrilled by the situation? I’m not. Unfortunately, I’m in about the same situation as a US military commander who wanted to implement DADT back when the official policy was still “we *will* hunt down and eject any gays”.

            The problem is that although there’s a lot of idiocy at the National level, the program actually works and does good for the boys at the unit level.  Unfortunately, the application  to be an adult volunteer says you will comply with the BSA rules and regulations, which basically means that jumping up and down and yelling “Gay Scouts Welcome In This Troop” will get your membership revoked.  So that leaves me with only two really valid choices:

            1) Do the DADT thing, realize it’s not fair to any gay youth that might want to be members, but it at least lets them participate, and wait for BSA National to catch up with the rest of the US.  And in the meantime, I’m at least doing something good for the other boys.

            2) Turn my back on them, leave the organization, and then *none* of the boys benefit.

            Feel free to suggest better alternatives.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            Feel free to suggest better alternatives.

            If lots of troop leaders feel like you do, then overthrow the national leadership or secede and form your own organization. If not, then you’re still participating in something shameful.

          • Scratcheee says:

            Something about baby and bathwater comes to mind.  A lot of good does come out of the Boy Scouts, just as a lot of homosexual people have had rewarding careers in the military.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            Something about baby and bathwater comes to mind.

            How is it any different from this?

          • Scratcheee says:

            I was actually replying to your comment below, which didn’t have a reply button.  Your correspondent  chooses to do some good from within, by, well, doing good, and ignoring a policy he doesn’t agree with.  Seems like a pretty solid option to me, rather than trying to start up a whole new organization.

          • valdis says:

            We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one.  You want to boycott any organization that won’t do 100% of what you want, right now, whether or not that produces faster results.

            I’m convinced that more *total* good can be achieved if I do what I can within the current framework and try to get it changed.

            Thought experiment:  If somebody had told Mother Teresa about the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandals, should she have left the church and stopped helping the poor in protest?  Or should she continue helping the poor and doing what she can about the scandal?

            I suspect you and I have different answers to that thought experiment.

          • valdis says:

            Scratchee: Another reason to not quit and work for change from within:  One of the goals of the BSA is to teach citizenship – which includes figuring out how to get things changed.  “overthrow the leadership or start a competing organization” may be OK when it’s a private organization.

            But that doesn’t scale to citizenship – I don’t think anybody wants #OWS to be “overthrow the leadership or start a competing organization” – we *really* want that to remain “work towards peaceful change from within society”.

            And what do you know – the 1960′s civil rights movement and pretty much most of the current gay rights movement’s successes have been that – “work towards peaceful change from within society”.

            I think I’ll stick with that as a model.

          • Neal Starkey says:

             Valdis, you want to help? get kicked out of the scouts like the others suggested and join a group that does not discriminate like:
            http://www.campfireusa.org

        • Personally, I find a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy more deplorable than the BSA’s official, discriminatory, position.  You, sir, are a bigot, plain and simple.

          OTOH, contrast GSUSA’s (Girl Scouts of the USA) position on the things BSA discriminates on.  My now 8-year-old niece wrote to GSUSA before becoming a Brownie to clarify that she would be welcome (she and her family are atheist) and her  Aunt Patti (me) would be welcomed in Scouting.  GSUSA wrote back to say that ALL GIRLS are welcome, as are their families, and went on to assure her that the pledge could be read without the reference to god with no problem.  I am gratified that the organization I so enjoyed and offered me so many opportunities is open to ALL young women!  I was a Girl Scout from Brownies through Gold (Gold was, when I was young, the Girl Scouting equivalent of Eagle for Boy Scouts) and went on to be a Brownie and Junior troop leader for several years.

          • Rindan says:

            Goddam thankless bastards. Stick your neck out doing what you can to improve the situation, and get called a bigot for it..  Makes me wonder why I do it.  In fact, tell you what, I’ll stop trying to do what I can to help the gay community. You guys and gals can fight your own battles for civil rights without my help.

            Good.  Stop “helping”.  Your “help” isn’t helpful.  Better to see kids getting openly run out of the Boy Scouts “cause we don’t accept no queers”  than quietly avoiding the confrontation.  If you have the “moral character” to kick a kid out and still sleep at night, go for it.  Good people getting kicked out and brave local leaders openly refusing to obey bigoted rules is what drives change.  If you can’t do the later, getting people pissed at your bigotry when you do the former to some poor kid whose only crime is that you disapprove of who they find attractive is almost as good.  

            Hushing up and not making a fuss over the bigotry of your organization isn’t a service, so please, don’t feel obligated to continue doing it as a favor to people who find that kind of bigotry repulsive.  Broadcasting loud and clear that the Boy Scouts are a bigoted organization by either fully enforcing the rules or standing up to them is far more helpful.

          • Scratcheee says:

            Rindan: “when you do the former to some poor kid whose only crime is that you disapprove of who they find attractive is almost as good.”
            Valdis never said he disapproved of anything.  And he said he did/would openly violate a policy with which he disagreed.  I suspect you’d prefer he hold a press conference to announce that he was allowing gay people to participate.  That would be heroic and dramatic and all.  But is it really so bad to just, you know, allow gay people to participate?  I think your attack is misplaced and uncalled for.  If you were not on the “correct” side of the issue you’d be disemvoweled.

        • Rindan says:

          Thought experiment:  If somebody had told Mother Teresa about the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandals, should she have left the church and stopped helping the poor in protest?  Or should she continue helping the poor and doing what she can about the scandal?

          If someone asked Mother Terersa to help cover  up a child sexual abuse scandal and instead she decided to turn a blind eye to it as a compromise, then yes, I would  have a problem with Mother Teresa.  The proper response  would be for Mother Teresa to refuse to turn a blind eye to a sex abuse scandal going on under her nose, openly violate the policy of hiding it, and if that means excommunication, so be it.  I’m pretty sure that our hypothetical Mother Teresa getting excommunicated would have done more to correct the abuse scandals than basically anything else I can think.   

          The same is true for Boy Scouts.  The answer is not to turn a blind eye to it and help participate in a cover up.  The answer is openly violate the policy, get fired, and then explain to the local paper why you got fired.  Bonus points if you score national attention.  

          The only way for the Boy Scouts to change is for people with a little backbone to stand up to bigotry and force the organization to confront their bigoted policies in the public, not quietly ignore them.  Don’t quit.  Get fired for being a moral person and refusing to help shove kids into the closet, or is moral cowardice the Boy Scout way?

          It is up to you, but the Boy Scouts reputation is only going to get worse.  Bigotry is declining pretty rapidly, especially of the homophobic nature.  I know that I personally would consider it a black mark, not an achievement, to learn that someone was recently a Boy Scout.

    • unit_1421 says:

      The kid isn’t gay, his parents are. derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  9. Cameron Huff says:

    Can never post that enough.

  10. Mitchell Glaser says:

    Here in California, several of the Manson Family murderers are in jail for life including the worst, Tex Watson. While in jail, he got married and had four children. Yes, that’s right, in California convicted serial killers can get married but this guy’s mothers cannot. And that’s how you protect marriage, biotch!

  11. Guest says:

    Not only an incredibly well-written speech but an incredibly well-delivered one. Ending by saying that having gay parents has had “zero effect on the content of my character” — echoing King’s “I have a dream” speech — was brilliant. You go, Zach.

    • Scratcheee says:

      Several hours ago I misread you to say, “NOT an incredibly well-written speech…”  It’s been bugging me all afternoon.

  12. riley says:

    Huzzah! Good energy!  Love this so much, Boingers, I hope you re-post it again and again and again.

  13. Here’s our interview with Zach where he talks about what it was like growing up with two mothers, what led him to decide to go and speak before the House of Representatives, how his life has changed after this speech thrust him into the public eye, and what other young people can do to fight for equality and speak out against intolerance.

    http://patv.tv/blog/2011/04/06/talking-with-yale-cohn-with-zach-wahls/

  14. UrbanUndead says:

    AWESOME. Zach rocks!!

  15. Antinous / Moderator says:

    I’m convinced that more *total* good can be achieved if I do what I can within the current framework and try to get it changed.

    No.  No, no, no.  You aren’t helping anything; you’re propping up institutionalized homophobia.  What have you done to get it changed?  Because from your comments, all that you’ve done is participate in covering it up.

    Personally, I’ve been very careful to avoid asking directly, won’t make an issue of it unless the boy makes it into the paper as a news story for taking another boy to the prom, and if somebody shows me the paper with a picture of the two of them, I’m gonna say “Cool photoshop, bro.  How did they get the paper to run it?”

    You’re encouraging gay youth to stay silent, to stay in the closet.  You are actively participating in the system that drives gay youth to suicide.  It’s appalling that you actually believe that you’re doing some good by encouraging a retreat to the closet.

  16. “Thought experiment:  If somebody had told Mother Teresa about the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandals, should she have left the church and stopped helping the poor in protest?  Or should she continue helping the poor and doing what she can about the scandal?”

    Mother Terest herself is a bit of a scandal, as she could have done so much more to end suffering if she had broken with Rome on the issue of birth control.  But that is neither here nor there.  Why assume she couldn’t have continued to do good and no longer be a roman catholic? SO yes, I do think she should have left the church in protest over the scandal, and I see no reason to stop helping the poor.

  17. Linley Lee says:

    This is just beautiful.  I would be so proud to have a kid like him.

  18. rtresco says:

    Just to nitpick – it’s amusing/sad that this post regarding tolerance has an update that uses the word “Derp”, which in the online worlds of Tumblr and 4chan is a derogatory, like calling someone a “retard” by using this onomatopoeia. I suggest “Oops”.

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