Why Zach Wahls Is My Hero
If you’re the kind of person who reads my blog, you’ve probably already seen Zach Wahls’ fantastic speech at the DNC from last night. Just in case you haven’t, here’s the prepared remarks:
I’m a sixth-generation Iowan, an Eagle Scout, and I was raised by my two moms, Jackie and Terry.
People want to know what it’s like having lesbian parents. I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m awesome at putting the seat down. Otherwise, we’re like any other family. We eat dinner, we go to church, we have chores. But some people don’t see it that way. When I was 12, watching the 2004 Republican convention, I remember politicians talking about protecting marriage from families like mine.
Now, supporting a view of marriage as between a man and woman isn’t radical. For many people, it’s a matter of faith. We respect that. Watching that convention on TV, though, I felt confused, frustrated. Why didn’t they think my family was a real family?
Governor Romney says he’s against same-sex marriage because every child deserves a mother and a father. 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.
President Obama understands that. He supports my moms’ marriage. President Obama put his political future on the line to do what was right. Without his leadership, we wouldn’t be here. President Obama is fighting for our families — all of our families. He has our backs. We have his.
Now, there were plenty of positive mentions of marriage equality during the Democratic Convention. And that’s awesome. To me, it felt important. Having marriage equality included in the Democratic platform really makes me hopeful for our future. I can die a happy man if I never have to hear another anti-gay politician say, “My views on gay marriage are the same as President Obama’s.”
But Zach Wahls is doing something a little different.
Zach Wahls is advocating on behalf of my children. My sons are six and four. They’re far too young to advocate for themselves, so that task falls to Austin and me. And I think in general we do a pretty good job of it. But we sure don’t speak as eloquently as Zach Wahls, nor can we speak from the perspective of a child of gay parents.
When he spoke about being twelve and watching the 2004 Republican Convention, I felt a little knot in my stomach. My sons are young enough that they have never heard a negative comment about their family. They don’t know that some people don’t think we’re a family. They don’t know that some people believe their dads are harming them. They don’t know that some people hate Austin and I because we love each other.
But the day they learn that is getting closer, and it’s unavoidable. That’s why I’m so touched to see Zach Wahls speaking on behalf of his clearly amazing mothers, on behalf of his family, and on behalf of families that look like his.
Now, living in a house of four men, my sons are really unlikely to be as good at putting down the seat as Zach Wahls. But I would be very proud if they grew up to care about others and speak on behalf of those who cannot.