Officials: Zach Wahls' DNC speech opens doors for LGBT community


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State officials say Zach Wahls’ speech at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night places Iowa on the map as a national leader in recognizing equality for those who identify with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

Wahls — a former University of Iowa student — took center stage at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday for approximately two minutes. In his speech he discussed love and the importance of re-electing President Obama.

“Gov. Romney says he's against same-sex marriage because every child deserves a mother and a father,” Wahls said at the convention. “I think every child deserves a family as loving and committed as mine. Because 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. Mr. Romney, my family is just as real as yours.”

Wahls, who plans on returning to the UI next spring, is an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights. He stormed into stardom in January 2011 when he delivered a heartfelt plea to the Iowa House Judiciary Committee in support of gay marriage.

“Zach Wahls is an important advocate for LGBT equality,” said Molly Tafoya, the communication director for One Iowa. “He’s able to communicate with people on a very emotional level. I think that his presence at the convention is going to reach a wide audience. He’ll be able to share his story of equality and what it means to his family.”

Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky said Wahls has connected with people on a special level.

“Zach Wahls is defending his family,” Dvorsky told The Daily Iowan while at the convention. “Zach Wahls has become their son, their daughter, he has become the person who has been raised so beautifully by his moms.”

The Democratic Party placed same-sex marriage on its platform for the first time ever, and Dvorsky said that Iowa is a leader in recognizing that equality means the inclusion of everyone.

One Iowa — the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization — released a statement about the Democratic Party’s inclusion of same-sex marriage on its platform.

“One Iowa applauds the nation’s Democrats for taking a stand for equality for all Americans, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans,” One Iowa Executive Director Donna Red Wing said in a statement. “We know we have strong and powerful allies in our corner, and now we have a commitment to defend equality from a major political party.”

Wahls, who was raised by two mothers, hopes to show the invalidity in the comments often made about same-sex marriages.

“I think what we’ve seen from the other side of this issue, is an attempt to paint families like mine as weird or deficient, and my message is that, that’s simply not true,” he told The Daily Iowan. “I think there are a lot of folks out there who try to say that the most important thing for the child is whether or not they have one parent with an X and a Y chromosome and another parent with two X chromosomes.”

Not everyone in the country agrees with Wahls’ stance.

Sen. Shawn Hamerlinck, R-Dixon, said Thursday that people should be able to speak their mind on what they are passionate about.

One UI student said Wahls’ speech will open doors for the LGBT community, allowing the members to be recognized on a national level. 

“[LGBT issues have] become a very prominent topic in our society right now,“ UI junior Lindsey Hanson said. “I think his speech will be a huge step for the LGBT community. They are having their voice heard at a major event, and this wouldn’t have happened years ago. His speech is significant because it’s showing how [LGBT people] should be treated like everyone else.”

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